Chest congestion is an umbrella term for excessive mucus buildup in your lungs. If you have suffered from bronchitis or the common cold, you most likely know what chest congestion is. It results from the inflammation of air passageways or the bronchi.
No matter the cause of chest congestion, it is quite discomforting and unbearable at times. When an infection occurs in the lungs, there is excessive mucus production in the airways. They fill up with sputum and get swollen. That is why you experience difficulty in breathing.
Although there are several home remedies and ancient treatment methods for chest congestion, only a few of them are backed up by solid scientific evidence. In this article, we will go through the most effective treatment options available for chest congestion.
But before, let’s take a quick look at what chest congestion is and how it manifests itself during respiratory tract infections.
Causes & Symptoms of Chest Congestion
Almost all patients with chest congestion experience suffocation and breathlessness. It occurs mainly due to toxic substances, bacteria, and viruses present in inhaled air. Symptoms of congestion usually fade away within two weeks. These include:
- Chest tightness
- Hacking cough with colored mucus
- Sore throat
- Fatigue and body aches and chills
- Fever and chills
To help you get rid of chest congestion and phlegm, we have made a list of the most effective home treatments.
Hot Lemon Water
Doctors believe that staying hydrated is the key to getting rid of chest congestion. Drinking hot lemon water can help keep the mucus thin. Apart from that, the high concentration of vitamin C enhances the functioning of the immune system.
Applying an over-the-counter vapor rub such as Vicks to your chest can provide instant relief. It contains eucalyptus oil that has antiviral properties. When massaged onto your chest along with warm water, it can help fight the infection better.
Moisture and warmth work hand in hand to alleviate the symptoms of chest congestion. Breathing in the steam from a hot pot of water can help break up and thin the mucus. Taking hot showers and placing a humidifier in your room can also help relieve chest congestion.
OTC medications for chest congestion are of two types depending upon their mode of action. They are described below.
Expectorants such as Mucinex work by thinning the phlegm in your lungs. They help you get rid of the uncomfortable congestion by speeding up the sputum clearing process.
Although these medications don’t reduce or thin the mucus, they are an excellent solution for peaceful sleep. They suppress the cough reflex and loosen up the congestion in the chest. Commonly prescribed suppressants include Coricidin, Delsym, and Dimetapp.
When Should You See A Doctor?
If chest congestion continues to persist even after two weeks, you should consult with a physician. It may be the outcome of severe underlying disease such as pneumonia. In case the remedies listed above don’t work, you should get proper medical treatment.