Do you feel awkward in social situations when you can’t stop clearing your throat and coughing? Do you wake up tired because your coughing kept you up all night? Chest congestion affects millions of people and despite dire warnings issued by medical agencies, most tend to take their chest congestion seriously. Chest congestion is an irritation of the mucus lining along the walls of the respiratory tract by irritants such as cigarette smoke; diseases like flu, bronchitis, tuberculosis and pneumonia; gastro-esophageal acid reflux; allergies and asthma.
Typically, the mucus expelled in the form of phlegm is a good sign as it indicates that the body is protecting itself by expelling harmful bacteria and irritants mixed with mucus. However, often when the excess mucus doesn’t go back to normal, the result is chest congestion.
Symptoms of a Congested Chest:
If you are suffering from chest congestion, you will probably also experience:
- Chest pain while coughing
- Wheezing or rasping
- Coughing fits
- Shortness of breath
- Post nasal drip
- Coughing up blood (in extreme cases)
- Tiredness due to lack of sleep
Chest Congestion: What Helps?
Though these symptoms seem minor in themselves, it is not wise to allow them to linger for too long. Chest congestion that lasts for more than 14 days can indicate some serious underlying illnesses. It is best to treat it with home remedies starting from day three or four itself. However, consult a doctor without delay if the congestion continues even after 14 days. Here are some chest congestion home remedies to get you started on the easy road to recovery. Easy because these remedies are easy-to-make, affordable and sometimes fun to try and often, if not always, they give you instant relief.
Home Remedies for Chest Congestion
Remedies include both the do’s and don’ts that you require to do when troubled with congested chest. Let us now get into a clear idea on what to do and what not to do:
Chest Congestion – The Don’ts:
Here are some things that a person suffering from chest congestion should avoid. Most of these things are easy to quit and if you succeed in quitting them for good, they will help build a better lifestyle as well.
1. Snub The Stub:
Yes, I am talking about cigarettes! Your chest congestion might “magically” clear up a day or two after quitting smoking. Cigarette smoke (and other forms of tobacco as well) contains strong and harmful irritants that disrupt the normal functioning of the mucus lining of the chest. It recognizes the irritants as enemies and reacts by trying to expel them. This is also a good reason to quit smoking for good.
2. Cut Back On The Dairy:
For some reason, dairy products are very common chest mucus lining irritants. They also promote the build-up of excess mucus. People with chronic chest congestion should try limiting their intake of dairy products and can opt for soy-based milk and cheeses instead. Ttill the time your congestion clears up, try cutting back on milk, curd and cheeses. It just might help.
3. Go Salt-Less:
Salt is a natural mucus generator, so, if you suffer from chest congestion, cutting back on salt for some days to see if it works is a good idea. Don’t just cut back on salt in your cooking, also avoid salty snacks like chips and roasted nuts. Not only will this help with chest congestion, it is also a healthy lifestyle choice.
4. Say NO To Sugar:
Sugar, and especially refined sugar, can enhance mucus production in the chest lining. Try and avoid excess sugar and complex carbohydrates until your chest congestion clears up. Sugar, starch, and carbohydrates are all bad for your chest congestion as they provoke the chest lining to secrete more mucus than can be utilized. Go low on white bread, pasta, pastries and cakes (sad, but true!) and see if this clears your congestion.
5. Quit the Cold Beverages:
Drinks that are too cold or chilled aggravate chest congestion by closing up airways instead of opening them. Closed airways become even more constricted and the excess mucus cannot be expelled. This causes a build-up of phlegm in the air passage ways that become irritated mostly at night when the body is at rest. Say goodbye to all cold drinks and cold water, especially iced ones to get relief from chest congestion.
6. Bid Goodbye to Fried Foods:
Oily foods, especially fried ones, also promote mucus production in the chest lining. Eating too much oily food can make you phlegmatic and can give you bad coughing fits. The oil also coats the lining of the throat, which makes inhalation of steam more difficult. The overall effect is discomfort and more chest congestion. So, bid adieu to oily food till the congestion clears up.
7. Uncover the Nose:
If you tend to sleep with your head and nose covered, try leaving them uncovered. The stale air that builds up inside the covers can trigger coughing fits and congestion at night. The fresh air, especially if you use a humidifier at night, will act as a great expectorant. Over a good night’s sleep you will be rid of the post nasal drip and congestion and will wake up fresh to face the new day.
Chest Congestion – The Dos:
These are a few things you can incorporate into your life to alleviate chest congestion and also prevent it from happening again. They can be best regarded to be the home remedies for chest congestion!
1. Pamper Yourself With A Shower:
When it comes to chest congestion, one of the most immediate methods to find relief is taking a hot, steamy bath or shower. The steam creates a sauna-like environment and when inhaled deeply, it immediately works by clearing excess mucus. The hot water and scent of the soap also act as calming relaxants.
2. Steam Up The Lungs:
An easy and more convenient alternative to a hot, steamy bath is deep inhalation of steam. Take a pan of steaming hot water. You may optionally add a few drops of eucalyptus oil or any vapor rub or balm to the water. Lower your face over this pan and cover your torso over it entirely with a sheet or towel. Don’t allow any outside air to enter this makeshift ‘face-tent’ as it will create further congestion.
Deeply inhale the steam for about 10 minutes and feel immediate relief from congestion, headache and post nasal drip. This is a good way to end a day full of chest congestion. While sleeping after steam treatment, cover your head and forehead as it will prevent cold air from coming in contact with the face and creating discomfort.
3. Hold your Head High:
Not figuratively of course, but sleeping with your head higher than the level of your heart will allow you freedom from congestion and post nasal drip over the night. This position might feel uncomfortable if you are used to sleeping on your belly or side, but it will ensure a peaceful night’s sleep with a congested chest. This is because the mucus build up will not collect at the base of the throat and will also prevent uncomfortable coughing fits.
4. Citrus Benefits:
Citrus fruits like oranges, pineapple, lemon and grapefruits have expectorant properties. Use them for direct consumption or as fresh juices to alleviate the symptoms of a congested chest and runny nose. Alternatively, a tablespoon of lemon or orange juice mixed with honey and black pepper powder will also alleviate the symptoms of chest congestion. These Vitamin C rich fruits will also help the body fight the infection.
5. Drink Up:
I mean, drink up water, and lots of it, whether warm or cool (but not chilled). Besides its other benefits, water also helps in getting rid of excess phlegm and mucus. Hydration is very important during chest congestion as the incessant coughing and wheezing can make the respiratory tract and throat very dry. This can lead to further irritation and more coughing.
6. Onions and Lemons:
Never imagined you’d read about onions here, did you? Well, here it is, crush an onion and extract its juice. To this add fresh lemon juice, water and honey in the proportion of 2:1:1 and make a mixture. Have this mixture thrice a day after heating it slightly. It will immediately soothe your aching throat and bring relief from chest congestion. One excellent home remedy for chest congestion!
7. Paint the Chest Yellow:
Again figuratively speaking of course, take turmeric powder, black pepper powder and honey in the ratio 1:1:4 and mix them well. Lick this paste whenever you feel discomfort and excess chest congestion. The turmeric has strong anti-bacterial properties and is a known healing agent. The black pepper acts as an expectorant. This mixture is very convenient to carry around in a small bottle or jar and can be of great help during the work day.
8. Spice Up your Cuisine:
Eating spicy food can help relieve the symptoms of chest congestion but not cure them, though it is effective immediately. The chillies and spices act as bronchodilators and open up the blocked airways in the chest. As a result, mucus that had been building up within the constricted airways is expelled.
9. Hot Fluids:
All sorts of hot beverages alleviate the symptoms of chest congestion. Try a cup of hot black tea, with or without any additives like lemon, or sip on your favorite hot soup, drink peppermint tea, lemongrass tea or an infusion of licorice in warm water. Avoid coffee, though, as it acts as a dehydrating agent and will leave you with a dry mouth and throat.
10. Gargle Your Way To De-Congestion:
You need to shake off your laziness for this one as you will need to gargle for at least 5 minutes, 2-3 times a day. Take a glass of water as hot as your mouth can bear. To it, add half a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of turmeric. Now gargle with this mixture deeply and avoid ingesting it as it might trigger vomiting. Deep gargling provides medicated vapors to the respiratory tract. Both salt and turmeric have anti-bacterial properties. This works best when done just before rest. So, try it before bed time or as soon as you get home from a long day of work.
11. Ginger Magic:
Ginger – the magical root – works wonders and a great remedy for congested chest. Boil a sliver of ginger and 3-4 kernels of black pepper for about 5 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool till it is just warm and strain it. To this add a tablespoon of honey and sip it, savoring the steam and flavor. Ginger has natural expectorant and anti-bacterial properties and black pepper acts as a decongestant.
12. Sour Remedy For Sore Throat:
Apple cider vinegar is, surprisingly, another home remedy for chest congestion. Take Apple Cider Vinegar and cool water in the ratio 1:2 and gargle with it. The vinegar attracts the excess phlegm and you will soon find yourself expelling it after the gargle.
This wonderful root has powerful anti bacterial properties and acts as a natural decongestant. You can either swallow 1-2 cloves of garlic with warm water early in the morning or try adding it to your daily cooking. Garlic is also a good pain reliever and will cure the headache and chest pain often accompanying chest congestion.
Chest Congestion – When to Consult a Doctor:
Despite all the above chest congestion remedies, if your condition does not go away within a period of two weeks, you need to consult a doctor if your chest congestion is accompanied by any or most of the following symptoms:
- Sudden appearance of reddish or yellow sputum
- Fever and chills
- Gasping for breath
- A feeling of tightness in the chest
Chest congestion accounts for the loss of millions of man-hours work each year. Sadly, most people continually choose to ignore it as just a seasonal annoyance without giving a single thought to its possible consequences. These simple tips work for most people by providing immediate relief. But, it is best to adopt the home remedies that work for you as lifelong practices to prevent chest congestion even before it starts.
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