Would you agree if I said that we’d get different answers if we asked different people what chest congestion means?
Most likely, isn’t it?
Conditions as such often tend to be characterized by heaviness on the chest due to a number of different medical reasons.
Chest congestion is an umbrella term used for the accumulation of fluid or mucus in the lungs or around the chest cavity. It is not a condition that requires professional help right off the bat but if the condition persists, it is best to consult a doctor for the same.
In this article, we are going to be focusing on the various aspects of chest congestion and talk about the remedies for chest congestion that actually work to provide relief from this condition.
What is Chest Congestion?
Chest congestion is a medical condition characterized by the feeling of tightness or heaviness around the chest area of an individual primarily because of the accumulation of fluids or mucus in the lining of the lungs or in the chest cavity.
The condition may even accompany pain at some point when you try to breathe or cough vigorously. Many people often complain about shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing. If you have been experiencing similar kinds of symptoms, there are chances that you need to get rid of this uneasy feeling without aggravating the situation further.
What are the Causes of Chest Congestion?
Now that we are well versed with the basic understanding of what a chest congestion is, let us delve into the primary causes behind the problem.
Some of the common causes of chest congestion include:
- Common Cold: This is one of the most common causes of chest congestion, if not the most common one. Conditions of cold and cough is often accompanied by a runny nose, sore throat, sneezing and vigorous coughing. This results in chest congestion symptoms because of the accumulation of the mucus around the chest cavity.
- Allergies: Even allergies contribute to chest congestion. There can be several triggers for allergies, from pollen to dust which causes itchy and watery eyes accompanied by cold and a slight cough. Allergies are the outcome of our immune system reacting to any foreign hindering particles in our body.
- Bronchitis: Bronchitis is the condition characterized by the persistent inflammation and swelling of the bronchial tubes which restricts the easy passage of the air. There are primarily two distinct variants of bronchitis, acute and chronic bronchitis and each of them causes chest congestion.
- Congestive heart failure: There may be instances when the heart of an individual becomes incompetent to pump the required amount of blood in and out of the heart to the other parts of the body. In situations like these, the fluid and blood tend to get accumulated in the lungs and even in other parts of the body. The prior one causes chest congestion.
- Tuberculosis: Even the condition of tuberculosis, where the accumulation of fluid and mucus occurs, is responsible for chest congestion. It is a bacterium borne disease and is communicable which is why it is very important to stay wary of such symptoms and consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Signs and Symptoms of Chest Congestion
In order to be able to distinguish chest congestion from any other disease or complication, you need to be aware of the signs and symptoms that accompany it.
Some of the common signs and symptoms include:
- Vigorous coughing
- Heaviness in and around the chest area
- Consistent fever
- Swelling of tongue
- Laboured breathing
- Pain while coughing
How to Get Rid of Chest Congestion?
Some of the common ways to break up chest congestion include:
- Increase the water intake
- Take a hot shower
- Get some proper sleeps ensuring that the head is kept elevated
- Drink water fluids or tea to dissolve the mucus accumulation
- Avoid eating unhealthy foods during that time
Home Remedies for Chest Congestion
Dealing with chest congestion can be very taxing. The vigorous coughing along with the stiffness around the chest can often induce a very persistent feeling of uneasiness which is often hard to get rid of. Try these below mentioned natural remedies for chest congestion that actually help relieve it.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Coconut Oil
- Heating Pad
- Avoid Smoking
- Salt Water Gargle
- Bay Leaves
- Mustard Plaster
- Epsom Salt Bath
- Pineapple Juice Soothe
- Black Coffee
- Essential Oils
- Best Teas for Chest Congestion
- Foods for Chest Congestion Relief
1. Apple Cider Vinegar for Chest Congestion
Apple Cider Vinegar is an amazing treatment for chest congestion. It is suggested that it helps dissolve and thin down the mucus accumulation in the chest, thereby decongesting the chest and making it easier to breathe. It also promotes the overall protection of one’s immunity which is one amazing way of preventing this problem in the first place.
- Mix one tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar to a glass of water
- Add a teaspoon of honey to mellow down the strong flavor
- Drink this twice a day daily till the symptoms go away
2. Coconut Oil Help Chest Congestion Relief
One of the most common symptoms of chest congestion is blocked nose and air pathway. This can be easily healed to bring chest congestion relief with ease with your very own DIY vapor rub. The essential oils help clear out the nasal passage and the constant massage with the coconut oil helps in warming up the area around the chest, thereby relieving some of the accumulated mucus.
- Mix one drop of peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil to a bowl of coconut oil
- Apply this over the chest and massage it into the chest
- Do this three to four times a day, especially before going to sleep at night
3. Honey for Chest Congestion
Honey is an amazing remedy for the treatment of chest congestion. It helps in thinning down the mucus deposition in and around the chest. It is loaded with amazing antiviral and antibacterial properties which prove beneficial for the removal of infection caused because of the congestion.
- Eat one whole tablespoon of honey in the morning
- Or, mix one tablespoon of honey to a glass of warm water and drink that every morning till the congestion dies out
- Or, mix enough honey to make a smooth doughy ball with 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Eat this paste at least two to three times daily for effective results
4. Heating Pad for Chest Congestion
Steaming is sometimes very suffocating for a number of people which is why it is always best to revert to non invasive forms of treatment for chest congestion relief that are effective at the same time.
Placing a heating pad over the chest helps provide with a soothing feeling of warmth and helps break down the mucus deposition in the chest cavity and lungs, thereby aiding to get mucus out from the chest.
- If you are using an electric heating pad, place it over the chest and adjust the temperature to keep it at a bearable condition.
- If you are using the water heating pads, warm some water and fill the heating pad with it and place it over the chest till you feel your nasal and the respiratory pathway decongesting.
- Repeat this multiple times throughout the day
5. Avoid Smoking
If you are looking for remedies for chest congestion, quitting smoking is possibly the best one in the lot. The inhaled smoke from the smoking aggravates the condition of the lungs, thereby making the situation even worse. So, one of the most convenient ways to relieve chest congestion is to quit smoking, once and for all.
6. Salt Water Gargle for Chest Congestion
Salt water is one of the most opted for natural remedies for chest congestion. The combination of salt and warm water has dual effects on treating the chest congestion. Gargling with salt water helps treat chest congestion and cure it in a record time.
The salt in the solution helps break down the mucus deposition and the warm water provides a soothing feeling to the throat.
- Mix one teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water
- Stir it well till the salt completely dissolves
- Gargle with this at least twice daily till the symptoms die down
Read More Health Benefits of Salt Water Gargle
7. Lemon for Chest Congestion
Lemon is also a great natural remedy for treating chest congestion. With the rich concentration of Vitamin C, it helps in breaking down the mucus deposition, thereby relieving the tightness around the chest. The antioxidant and antibacterial properties also help with boosting the immunity which is an added bonus.
- Mix one tablespoon of lemon juice to a glass of lukewarm water. Drink this every day twice or thrice.
- Another method is to grate the zest of a lemon and add it to a pot of boiling water. Let the water brew and sit for 10 minutes. Sip on this twice or thrice throughout the day.
8. Bay Leaves to Relieve Chest Congestion
For reasons unknown, bay leaves work as an amazing remedy for the treatment of chest congestion. It is believed that it has some medicinal properties which help in smoothing out the signs and symptoms that accompany chest congestion.
- Wash the fresh bay leaves thoroughly under water
- Boil a saucepan of water and add the bay leaves into it
- Let it steep for 10 minutes
- Strain the liquid and drink it twice or thrice daily
9. Mustard Plaster for Chest Congestion
Mustard plaster is a common spreadable paste that is spread across a protective dressing and is often used as a treatment for chest congestion relief. The pungency and the humidifying property of the mustard helps break down the congestion in the chest thereby relieving the suffering individual.
- Use a readily over the counter available mustard plaster and lay it over the chest till the congestion fizzles away.
- For making the mustard plaster at home, mix one cup of flour, two tablespoons of mustard powder and hot water to make a smooth paste. Spread this in a towel and apply that over the chest to relieve chest congestion.
10. Epsom Salt Bath for Chest Congestion
Epsom salt bath is one of the most beneficial natural remedies for chest congestion. It helps to treat the signs and symptoms of chest congestion, from the uncomfortable feeling to the pain that often accompanies the congestion. Soaking yourself in an Epsom salt bath helps in breaking down the mucus deposition around the chest and helps improve blood circulation as well.
- Fill a bathtub with warm water
- Add a few tablespoons of Epsom salt to the water
- Soak yourself in the water for 15-20 minutes
- Do this till the congestion symptoms are relieved
11. Pineapple Juice Soothe Chest Congestion
The remedy with the pineapple juice and mixture of honey, ginger and a bit of cayenne pepper is very beneficial for chest congestion. The combination of pineapple along with the kick of cayenne pepper helps in relieving the mucus that is deposited in the chest. The ginger and honey provide with a soothing feeling to the throat.
- Add half a teaspoon of honey and ginger juice to a glass of pineapple juice
- Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the mixture and mix everything together
- Drink this juice once or twice daily till you get rid of chest congestion
12. Black Coffee for Chest Congestion
Black coffee is often opted for as a temporary remedy for curing the chest congestion. The constituents of the black coffee helps treat the symptoms of chest congestion and also helps in dissolving the mucus that cause the problem in the first place. It clears out the air passage and aids in normal breathing.
Do not exceed the two cups a day mark for black coffee as excess caffeine can have opposite effects on your body.
13. Humidifier for Chest Congestion
When you are suffering from persistent symptoms of chest congestions, it is best to opt for a humidifier to get your room temperature back to something a little bit warm. These humidifiers help in moistening the nasal passage, thereby helping relieve chest congestion.
14. Essential Oils for Chest Congestion
A. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil has amazing effects for chest congestion treatment. It can either directly be inhaled or used as a rub over the chest for a warming sensation that soothes the irritation that often is accompanied with chest congestion.
- Pour a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a handkerchief and inhale the smell to clear the blocked air passages
- Another way is to add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to any carrier oil and rub it over the chest. The warming sensation helps break down the mucus and provides with relief from chest congestion.
B. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is known for its amazing expectorant properties which are what is very beneficial for the treatment of the chest congestion and blocked air passage. It helps alleviate the signs and symptoms of several diseases like that of chest congestion, asthma, bronchitis etc.
- Wet a towel in warm water and wring it. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to that and place it over your chest till you start feeling the congestion fizzling away.
- You can even rub it over the chest with some carrier oil till you get rid of the congestion
C. Peppermint Oil
The slight pungency and menthol like properties of the peppermint oil is very beneficial for the treatment of chest congestion. It is primarily used as a rub and inflicts amazing results for the treatment of the condition that often accompanies congestion like a sore throat, blocked nose and nasal pathway and such.
- Mix a few drops of peppermint oil with any other carrier oil and massage it over the chest for a few minutes till the oil seeps into the skin.
- Repeat this process a few times throughout the day for better results.
15. Best Teas for Chest Congestion
Not just essential oils and the common home remedies, even a variety of tea has proven beneficial effects on the treatment for chest congestion. In this section, we are going to be focusing on the common varieties of tea that you can consume to get rid of chest congestion.
A. Green Tea
Green tea is an amazing remedy to relieve chest congestion. It is loaded with natural nutrients and antioxidants which are very beneficial for the dissolving the phlegm that blocks the air passage and makes it harder to breathe when a person suffers from chest congestion.
- Boil some water in a saucepan and add some green tea leaves in it and let them steep for 15-20 minutes
- Strain them after that and drink it while it’s warm
- You can even dip green tea bags if you don’t have the loose leaves
B. Ginger Tea
Ginger tea is rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which is what makes it one of the most favoured natural remedies for chest congestion. The anti-inflammatory properties help relieve the inflammation that is often accompanied with congestion. It also prevents further development of mucus on the lining of the chest and the lungs.
- Boil some water in a saucepan
- Add some normal tea leaves and bring it to a further boil till the tea is steeped well enough
- Add some crushed ginger to the concoction and let it sit for 10 minutes or so till everything is properly infused
- Strain the tea and drink it twice or thrice daily
- If your congestion is because of cold and cough, this tea is a lifesaver for you
C. Thyme Tea
Thyme is yet another herb which has pronounced expectorant properties which help in breaking down the mucus build up in the chest lining. Once that mucus is dissolved properly, it becomes a lot easier to get relief from chest congestion.
Not just that, it even helps in decongesting several other respiratory diseases like bronchitis.
- Boil some water in a kettle or a saucepan
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of thyme leaves (dried or fresh) and cover the lid so that the essential oils don’t escape
- Let it steep for 10 minutes
- Strain the liquid and add a teaspoon of honey to it
- Drink this twice or thrice daily till the symptoms wither down
D. Fenugreek Tea
Fenugreek is loaded with anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties which confer it as one of the best natural remedies to relieve chest congestion. The anti-inflammatory properties help rid the inflammation that accompanies chest congestion in the air passage. The antimicrobial properties aid in killing the infection causing bacteria infesting the area.
- Soak a tablespoon of fenugreek seeds in a glass of water overnight
- Strain this liquid in the morning and bring it to a boil
- Add a teaspoon of honey to it and drink this tea twice daily till the congestion subsides
16. Foods for Chest Congestion Relief
If you were wary, let me clear it up for you that even your diet affects the process of chest congestion relief. The primary concern should always be to ensure that you don’t include food in your diet plan that necessarily aggravates the congestion and makes the situation worse.
In order to help you with the same, we have enlisted the foods for chest congestion relief:
A. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper has hyperthermic properties which is very helpful to get mucus out from the chest. The warming sensation breaks down the accumulated mucus in the chest or lung lining and helps in coughing it out of the body.
- Mix one teaspoon of cayenne pepper to a glass of water
- Drink this once daily till the symptoms of chest congestion go away
Garlic is loaded with anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties which actively fight the infection cause microbes. It helps fight the symptoms and helps provide relief from chest congestion.
- Add 4-5 cloves of peeled garlic to a saucepan of boiling water
- Let that boil till the essential nutrients of the garlic fuse well with the water
- Strain the liquid and add a teaspoon of honey to mellow down the pungency of garlic
Onion poultice is one of the most popular chest congestion remedies. It has proven effects on the treatment of the symptoms that come along with chest congestion. The warming sensation along with the pungency of the onions helps dissolve the mucus in the chest, thereby clearing out the air passage.
- Cut a few thick slices of onions and warm them for a minute
- Place them inside a towel and keep it over your chest for 10 minutes or so
- Repeat this twice daily till the symptoms of chest congestion wither away
Turmeric is more than just a curry seasoning. The amazing medicinal benefits have miraculous effects on the treatment for chest congestion. The active compound Curcumin, which is present in turmeric, helps break down the mucus build up and relieves the air passage to aid in better breathing.
- You can either gargle with warm turmeric water to get rid of chest congestion
- Or, Opt for turmeric tea or turmeric milk for similar promising results
Foods to Avoid for Chest Congestion
As much as a healthy diet can relieve chest congestion, there are a category of foods that one should avoid like a plague if you are don’t want to be in a position to worsen the condition even further.
In order to make the process a bit easier for you, we have enlisted the top foods that you should avoid if you are suffering from chest congestion.
Milk or Dairy Products
And when I mention milk, it doesn’t necessarily mean just milk but the entire array of dairy products too. Milk and dairy contain a compound called Casein, which promotes the further secretion of mucus that deteriorates the condition of chest congestion further. Even the presence of lactose in the dairy products promotes mucus secretion which further propels the condition of chest congestion.
Even the consumption of animal flesh worsens the condition of mucus deposition in the chest and lungs, thereby deteriorating the condition of chest congestion rather than curing it. It is best to avoid any form of animal flesh and even eggs and fish, for that matter.
If you thought that you could just swap dairy with soy products, you were sadly mistaken because even this worsens the condition of chest congestion. Although the side effects are not that ghastly as the normal dairy products, it is still better to avoid it for good measures.
Another common category of food to avoid is anything that causes allergies. If you are allergic to any kind of foods in specific, try and avoid it for good till you get rid of chest congestion. The consumption of these further aggravates the situation and you definitely want to avoid that.
Food for thought with some FAQs
A: During the night, the body tends to be in a relaxed state with lowered levels of cortisol in the body. This acts as a signal for the white blood cells to start fighting the infections and the microbial infestation that makes you sick. This is the reason the symptoms of chest congestion surface rather more than what you would experience throughout the day.
2. Is Chest Congestion Contagious?
A: Chest congestion is not contagious on its own. But, there are possibilities that the cause behind the chest congestion can be a reason that is contagious and spread via multiple vectors.
3. Can Chest Congestion Cause Shortness of Breath?
A: Yes, chest congestion can actively cause shortness of breath. Primarily because the congestion and the accumulation of mucus in the chest and lungs block the air passage, thereby causing the problems like that of labored breathing and wheezing.
4. Can Allergies Cause Chest Congestion?
A: Yes, allergies can most definitely cause chest congestion. Allergies often tend to contribute to inflammation of the air passage or in the respiratory tract and even promote the accumulation of phlegm which altogether causes chest congestion.
5. How Long Can Chest Congestion Last?
A: Chest congestion, more or less, lasts from a week to two weeks, depending on the severity of the phlegm deposition in the respiratory tract and the kind of remedy that has been administered to get mucus out from the chest.