The past few days you have been coughing all night. You experience difficulty in breathing and chest pain and you are worried about what’s going on in your body.
- What is Chest Congestion?
- Causes of Chest Congestion
- Symptoms of Chest Congestion
- How to Prevent Chest Congestion
- Potential Problems from Chest Congestion
- When to See a Doctor
- How to Get Rid of Chest Congestion
- Home Remedies for Chest Congestion
- Do’s and Don’ts
Chances are you suffer from chest congestion. Read on to learn how to get rid of chest congestion at home.
What is Chest Congestion?
Chest congestion, like the common cold, is among the symptoms of respiratory tract infections. It is an accumulation of mucus or fluids in the lungs and easily can lead to discomfort, pain, coughing, chest tenderness and difficulty in breathing.
When mucus, fluids or irritants get stuck in the respiratory tract, coughing helps to get rid of them. So, how does the mucus form? When you inhale, you breathe in some of the substances that float in the air, such as bacteria, dust, and pollen, among other allergens.
The mucous membranes that line your nose and the respiratory tract traps most of these foreign particles. The mucus, together with these trapped particles, are transported by tiny hairs called the cilia to the throat, where they either are swallowed or coughed out. Sometimes, some of the inhaled substances irritate the membranes and when bacteria or a virus is involved, an infection can result.
Then inflammation occurs, and mucus begins accumulating in the airways. This happens as the body tries removing the irritants. As the mucus thickens or increases, getting rid of it becomes problematic and swallowing or coughing becomes less effective.
This is why you start coughing more and harder to expel the accumulated phlegm, which tightens the airways and makes breathing difficult.
Causes of Chest Congestion
Chest congestion has several causes. They include:
- Smoking – Smoke in the respiratory tract tends to paralyze and eventually kill the cilia. When this happens, nothing can prevent foreign particles from entering the lungs. As particles attack the body, more mucus is produced and it slowly gathers in the chest, leading to congestion.
- Bronchitis – This happens when the bronchial lining in the airways swells. To fight the inflammation, immune cells are produced, which in turn causes chest congestion.
- Flu – Leads to symptoms such as cold, fever, cough and chest congestion.
- Asthma – Combined with muscle contraction and mucus production, it constricts the airways and causes inflammation that reduces the amount of oxygen entering the lungs.
- Cystic Fibrosis – It is a genetic disorder that leads to the production of mucus by the lungs. It makes you vulnerable to lung infections that may cause chest pains and difficulty in breathing.
- Pneumonia – It is a bacterial infection that fills your lungs with fluid and is dangerous for kids, smokers and the elderly.
- Allergy – Allergies trigger a series of immune system responses that include chest congestion.
- Pollution – The presence of harmful chemicals into the air around you can make you vulnerable to breathing problems, including chest congestion.
- Occupational Hazards – If you work in the construction, carpentry, furnace or cotton industries, you are at a high risk of getting chest congestion due to frequently inhaling foreign matter.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – This is caused by inflammation of the bronchial lining. The airway damage is irreparable and leads to chronic shortness of breath as well as chest congestion.
Symptoms of Chest Congestion
Chest congestion is characterized by lots of mucus and coughing, with varying degrees of labored breathing.
Other symptoms are:
- Rattling or wheezing sound when breathing
- Bluish tinge or paleness in severe cases
- Discomfort and chest pains
- Tachypnea or rapid breathing
- Mouth breathing
- Fatigue, usually even after mild exertion
Depending on the congestion’s underlying cause, there could be other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, fever, and headaches, among others.
How to Prevent Chest Congestion
Chest congestion easily can be prevented. Apart from the many home remedies, drinking water is one of the easiest prevention methods. Drinking the recommended eight glasses of water daily helps the body to function properly. It prevents dehydration, which people with chest congestion are at a risk of developing.
Water also helps treat chest congestion because it thins the secretions in the chest and facilitates easy coughing up of mucus. As chest infection is associated with nasal and sinus infections, it is important to treat them at an early stage.
This prevents the buildup of mucus in the chest as well as inflammation and infection. If you are a smoker, you probably know one way to help prevent chest congestion is by stopping the habit. Smoking aggravates lung problems, infections, and other issues in the respiratory tract.
It irritates the respiratory system and leads to more mucus production in the chest. Good hygiene is also mandatory to prevent the spread of chest infections through coughing or sneezing. Cover your mouth while coughing and wash your hands regularly.
Also, stick to a healthy diet and refrain from drinking alcohol. You also should do some mild exercise, such as pranayama yoga. It will help you increase your lung capacity and improve breathing.
Potential Problems from Chest Congestion
Failure to treat chest congestion may slowly progress to life-threatening illnesses and other conditions, such as chronic sleep apnea.
In some cases, asthma, pneumonia, and chronic nasal congestion, among other respiratory diseases, become inevitable.
When to See a Doctor
See a doctor if you experience any of the following:
- The symptoms are severe and are not improving.
- You feel drowsy, disorientated, and confused.
- You cough up blood or phlegm with blood.
- You are a pregnant or over 65 years of age.
- Your immune system is weak.
- You suspect a child has a chest infection.
- You have a chronic health condition or you are overweight and have difficulty breathing.
The doctor will diagnose the problem and, if necessary, conduct further tests, such as x-rays, phlegm testing, blood samples or breathing tests.
Then he or she will prescribe a natural expectorant or an albuterol inhaler. If the symptoms are not severe, you can get chest congestion relief by treating headaches, infections, and fever with painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol.
How to Get Rid of Chest Congestion
If a doctor deems hospitalization is not necessary, you can try home remedies for chest congestion relief.
Here are twenty-five home remedies for chest congestion:
- Decongestant Salve
- Chicken Soup
- Chamomile Tea
- Mustard Plaster
- Bay Leaf
- Salt Water
- Black Coffee
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Hot Pack
- Betel Leaves
- Lobelia Leaves
- Oregano Oil
Home Remedies for Chest Congestion
One of the natural herbs known to promote healthy lungs is thyme. It allows your lungs to effectively fight against bacteria that causes mucus buildup. In simple terms, thyme acts a protective shield for your lungs and keeps you free from congestion.
- To a cup of boiling water, add a quarter to half a teaspoon of thyme.
- Soak for 5 minutes and add a little honey for sweetness.
- Drink it.
- Mix corn or olive oil with diluted thyme oil in a 1:1 ratio.
- Stir thoroughly to make a perfect mixture.
- Gently rub it on your chest and you will be relieved from pain and discomfort.
This is one of the most effective remedies, offering immediate relief from chest congestion.
This home remedy requires coconut oil because it is easily absorbed by the skin, whereas the eucalyptus oil keeps the airways free.
The mucus is loosened by camphor, which also apparently reduces inflammation.
- Completely melt ¼ cup of coconut oil in a microwave.
- Add 8 drops of eucalyptus, a drop of olive, 3 drops of camphor oil and 5 drops of peppermint.
- Mix them well and then pour a glass of the mixture and refrigerate.
- Remove after 1 hour and apply gently to the chest or the neck.
Grandma’s stories about chicken soup and chest congestion chest actually are true. Chicken soup contains nutrients that act as anti-inflammatory agents. This property eases respiratory tract infections.
It also inhibits neutrophil migration, which is involved in the release of mucus. Neutrophils are white blood cells vital in processes that allow the removal of cellular debris and bacteria as well as solid particles.
Chicken soup deals with these neutrophils and helps in the fight against chest congestion. You can use several spices to make chicken soup, including turmeric, garlic, and ginger, all of which will help in the fight.
Chamomile tea is used as a remedy for several conditions, including chest congestion. Every time you notice congestion symptoms, such as coughing or difficulty breathing, you always can prepare chamomile tea and drink it. It has long been established that chamomile is an effective natural herb that can help in treating infections in the respiratory tract.
It is also good for reducing swelling in the mucous membranes.
- Boil a cup of water and add some chamomile leaves.
- Cover it and leave it to steep for about 5 minutes.
- Strain it, pour into a cup and drink it.
You may not know the herb parsley, but perhaps cilantro, popularly known as coriander, is more familiar. The three refer to the same thing.
This is another natural herb used as a home remedy when one wants to assuage chest congestion. Apart from chest congestion, this spice also is used in treating other ailments.
It releases histamines in the body, which help fight infections. It can be used like fennel by adding it to your cooking.
Spice up any dish of your preference with parsley. Add curry powder and sautéed parsley to oil to improve the taste.
It will help in breaking down the mucus for easy removal.
The versatility of fennel extends to healing chest congestion. It has been used for a long time to treat several digestive disorders and in the prevention of some kinds of cancer.
Moreover, fennel has decongestive properties that enable it to clear mucus from the chest. It also contains other several chemicals, such as alpha-pinene and creosol, which loosen chest tightness and make coughing up mucus easier.
You can use the fronds, the seeds or the stem.
- Consume some fennel seeds or sautéed fennel for relief.
- Add some curry powder to some fennel and eat it.
- Soak fennel seeds in a glass of hot water and eat them after 15 minutes.
- Roast some fennel seeds over low heat and inhale the vapor for treatment.
Mustard plaster is not only regarded as one of the best home remedies for treating chest congestion, but it is also ideal for the treatment of more serious airway infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
Caution should be taken though. Remove the plaster immediately if it causes skin irritations or you get a burning sensation.
- Mix 4 tablespoons of flour with 1 tablespoon of dry mustard.
- Add enough water and some olive oil to make a light paste.
- Gently spread the paste onto a clean cloth and put it on your chest.
- Leave it until it cools.
- Repeat the process daily until you notice the improvement in the congestion.
Since garlic has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, it is effective in fighting notorious infections of the respiratory tract that cause chest congestion. It includes nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, and B, together with iron, calcium, copper, and selenium.
- Crush 2 or 3 garlic cloves, add half a teaspoon of honey and a cup of water or milk then boil.
- Strain and drink it.
- Add crushed garlic cloves and lemon juice to a cup of hot water.
- Add half a teaspoon of crushed black pepper and some salt.
- Drink while still warm.
- You also can eat fresh garlic gloves.
Oregano comes with flavonoids, rosmarinic acid, and carvacrol, all which have antihistamine and natural decongestant properties. Rosmarinic acid is known to reduce the buildup of fluids and swelling during allergy attacks. This is why it is effective as a home remedy for chest congestion.
- Make a mixture from 1 part oregano oil with 3 parts water and stir thoroughly
- Take the mixture and rub it gently and directly onto the throat or the chest. It will reduce swelling as well as congestion.
Bay leaf is a crucial herb used in the treatment of several health conditions, including chest congestion.
- Take a bunch of bay leaves and put them into two glasses of boiling water.
- Leave it to soak for a while.
- Strain and drink the tea.
- You can use bay leaves as hot compresses. Place them in hot water and boil them for some time.
- Strain it, then dip a clean cloth in the water and wring out the excess water.
- Place it on your chest as a hot compress to ensure the mucus is effectively removed.
Repeat either of the procedures until you get well.
Ginger is a good anti-inflammatory agent. It also has immune boosting capabilities. It contains polyphenol, which helps in inhibiting the secretion of mucus. It is also good for fighting infections and the bacteria associated with them.
- Chop raw ginger and add a tablespoon of it to a glass of hot water.
- Cover and leave to steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain it and add some honey.
- Drink up to 3 cups a day.
- Grind a teaspoon of dry ginger and cloves of the same amount to form a powder.
- Divide it into 3 parts and take it with milk or honey 3 times daily.
Peppermint is another popular home remedy that eases chest pains and heals chest congestion. It can be used in a variety of ways, including in steam baths.
- You can prepare a cup of hot tea with peppermint leaves and drink it. The presence of antioxidants will provide relief.
- Use peppermint oil. Apply some of this natural oil to the chest or throat area. The pain will be soothed by the warm feeling of the peppermint.
- In a bowl of hot water, add a few drops of peppermint oil. This treatment contains menthol, which will reduce the congestion.
Follow any of these remedies daily to get chest congestion relief.
Lemon acts also as a natural treatment for chest congestion. It contains nitric acid, which reduces the thickness of the mucus accumulated in the chest so that it can be coughed up or expelled with ease. On top of that, the vitamin C in lemon helps in improving the body’s immune system.
- To a glass of hot water, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
- Add a little honey to increase sweetness.
- Drink the solution several times a day.
- To a cup of hot water, add 1 tablespoon of grated lemon zest.
- Cover and leave it to steep for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Strain and drink it or else gargle with it.
Curcumin is an active compound in turmeric, which is a good expectorant. It removes the mucus from the chest and gives you immediate relief from congestion. It is also an anti-inflammatory agent that is good for dealing with most symptoms of chest congestion, including a cough and pain.
- In a glass of water, mix a pinch of turmeric powder and gargle with it several times a day.
- You also can mix the turmeric powder with a glass of milk and boil it. Add 2 teaspoons of honey and a small amount of black pepper.
- Drink it hot at least three times a day.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of turmeric powder thoroughly with apple cider vinegar.
- Take it twice a day.
Honey is a home remedy for several conditions. For chest congestion, it helps thin the mucus. As a result, removal of mucus from the airways is easier. Honey also has some antibacterial and antiviral properties, which helps in fighting infections.
- Mix warm water with honey and drink it, or you simply can eat 1 teaspoon of raw honey. Doing this will alleviate your chest congestion for several hours.
- You can add ½ teaspoon of powdered black pepper to honey and make a paste.
- Eat this paste 3 to 4 times a day until you get complete relief from chest congestion.
Saltwater is very effective for getting rid of chest congestion. Simply heat it gently, then gargle with it several times a day. The warm water reduces throat irritation and the salt helps in removing the mucus from the airways.
- Boil a glass of water and add 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Mix thoroughly until all the salt has dissolved.
- Pour the solution into your mouth and gargle with it.
- Repeat this procedure about 2 or 3 times in a day until you feel the congestion disappear.
Another effective home remedy that guarantees relief from chest pain and congestion is onion. It contains quercetin, which helps in dissolving the mucus.
Furthermore, it inhibits the accumulation of mucus in the chest and its antimicrobial properties make it good for preventing infections.
- Smash and squeeze onions to obtain its juice.
- Mix the same amount of water, lemon juice, and honey.
- Heat the mixture until it is warm and drink it.
- Chew about 5 or 6 onion slices along with sugar before you sleep.
- Or eat cooked, baked or raw onions to facilitate easy mucus flow.
Coffee contains caffeine, which enhances clearing and removal of mucus from the chest. It easily relieves you from shortness of breath. If you have been experiencing some difficulty in breathing, black coffee might just be the solution you are seeking.
- On a daily basis, at least until you feel relieved, drink about 1 or 2 cups of black coffee.
Ensure you do not drink more than two cups of black coffee in a single day. The ingredients may cause adverse reactions. Caffeine also may elevate your heart rate and increase high blood pressure.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar, especially organic, is another excellent home remedy for chest congestion. It is efficient in thinning the mucus gathered in the chest, thus helping you breathe easier. Also, apple cider vinegar boosts your body’s response to infections. This helps prevent chest congestion from developing in the first place.
- Add 2 teaspoons of unfiltered raw apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water.
- Add a teaspoon of honey and mix it well.
- Drink about 2 to 3 times daily for a week.
This is one of the easiest home remedies. Breathing in steam gives you relief from chest congestion. The heat and moisture dissolves and breaks up the accumulated mucus for easy removal.
- To a bowl full of hot water, add several drops of eucalyptus essential oil or peppermint.
- Lean over and place your face over the steaming bowl.
- Breathe in the steam for as long as you can.
- Breathe deeply.
- Take a hot shower while at the same time breathing in the vapor for about five minutes.
The remedy isn’t ideal for the pregnant mothers, children and those with high blood pressure or heart conditions.
Licorice is a good natural expectorant that greatly helps in getting rid of chest congestion. It is also the best choice for soothing an irritated throat.
- To a cup of hot water, add half a teaspoon of licorice root.
- Cover and leave it to steep for about 10 minutes.
- Strain, add a little honey and drink.
- Add half a teaspoon of licorice powder and the same amount of ginger powder to a glass of hot water.
- Drink it twice a day.
Licorice is not suitable for those with high blood pressure.
Radishes are a good source of skin hydration as well as being a natural remedy for fighting chest congestion. They clear chest congestion brought about by allergies, colds, and bronchitis.
- Take a radish and chop it.
- Add some lemon juice and consume every morning.
- Wash some radishes and chop them well.
- Put them in a juicer.
- Drink the juice on a regular basis until your chest congestion disappears.
Applying radish oil to the chest and throat will clean the mucus because it is an excellent expectorant.
A hot pack or hot compress is not only a therapeutic step for relaxation but also an effective way of guaranteeing soothing relief from chest congestion.
- Take 1 teaspoonful of fenugreek or carom seeds and cloves and roast them for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Put them into a clean cloth and pack them together.
- Place the cloth on the chest or throat for a few seconds.
- Repeat this technique for several days until you feel relief.
Betel contains several essential oils. It also contains phenol and antiseptic as well as anti-inflammatory properties. These provide relief from chest congestion, including that caused by acid reflux.
- Boil several betel leaves in water and drink it.
- Warm some betel leaves. Place them on the chest like you would with a hot compress.
- Roast some betel leaves on low heat along with sesame or mustard oil. Put them on your chest after they are warm for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- To a cup of mustard oil, chop and add some betel leaves. Warm the mixture and apply it to the chest.
Lobelia is an herb that easily can relieve pain. It is also effective in stimulating the respiratory system and loosening mucus. You can use this herb several ways to make tea. Just ensure that the herbal tea isn’t subjected to too much heat as that can destroy its medicinal property.
- Add some dried lobelia leaves to a cup of boiling water.
- Allow it to steep for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Strain the solution and drink it.
- Ensure that you take about 3 cups of this tea regularly.
The congestion will disappear after a few days.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Make sure you get plenty of sleep.
- Practice some relaxation techniques, such as yoga, mindfulness, and meditation.
- Drink plenty of water to make sure you stay hydrated. This will thin the mucus in your chest and prevent further buildup.
- Get plenty of vitamin D, through both sunlight and supplements.
- Do mild and not intense exercises. This will help ensure your lungs and breathing muscles are healthy. This also will improve your body’s oxygen circulation.
- Stick to a healthy diet.
- Do not consume lots of unhealthy fats or salt.
- Do not eat processed foods.
- Do not eat sugary foods, including dairy products, since they produce mucus.
- If you are a smoker, you might want to quit smoking.
- Avoid the use of suppressants. These are drugs that stop you from coughing up the accumulated mucus in the chest. Even doctors advise against using them as they hinder the healing process. They keep the phlegm in the mucous membranes and continue breeding bacteria.
Chest congestion has a variety of causes, including bacteria, viruses, and allergens. Often, it is also a symptom of other serious diseases. Chest congestion may signify you have the flu, a cold, or something more serious, such as pneumonia or asthma. Luckily, treatment is within arm’s reach. If the condition isn’t serious, you can try any of the above-listed home remedies. You can try one that best suits you and it should provide the relief you want. Using any of the remedies should get you relief within days.
But, if the symptoms do not go away, a visit to the doctor is mandatory. He or she will diagnose the problem and prescribe medication or other treatment. It is highly advisable that you do this first if you have a history of diseases such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, flu or pneumonia. If the doctor deems that hospitalization is not necessary, you can go ahead and try the home remedies. These remedies also will relieve other symptoms, such as coughing and sore throat. We hope they bring you relief from chest congestion.
If you know of any other remedies that work for you, please share them with us in the comments section below.