11 Effective Remedies to Heal Chest Congestion

The winters are around the corner, and along with snowflakes, they carry viral infections and the common cold with them.

You must have faced chest congestion initially, but it is normal. Though chest congestion is not life-threatening, it creates difficulty in normal breathing patterns.

When the airways produce too much mucus, it causes chest congestion1. Mucus production is normal and beneficial as it keeps the inner lining of some body parts moist. It acts as a purifier, too. Mucus lining, coughing, and sneezing are how our bodies keep us safe from irritants and foreign substances.

Certain finger-like projections called cilia are present in the mucus membranes that brush out the irritants by coughing or sneezing. However, mucus production from mucus membranes increases in upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold and flu. This extra amount of mucus clogs the chest, resulting in chest congestion.

In this article, we will learn everything about chest congestion, including its symptoms, remedies, and treatment. So keep scrolling down.

Chest congestion symptoms

chest congestion
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Some primary symptoms show up when the chest is full of mucus. Most of these symptoms are common cold symptoms. Some of the symptoms of  chest congestion2 are;

  1. A feeling of suffocation/ Chest tightness
  2. Fever
  3. Runny or stuffy nose
  4. Trouble breathing
  5. Hacking cough with mucus discharge
  6. Headache
  7. Body aches and chills
  8. Sore throat

These symptoms persist for about 3-4 days and generally resemble flu symptoms. Home remedies can cure them, activating the body’s immune system. However, medical attention is advisable if the symptoms do not disappear.

How do you get rid of a chest cold?

Because a virus causes chest congestion, clearing the virus also clears the mucus, getting rid of chest congestion. Before taking antibiotics and decongestants, give the home remedies a try.

Most of the time, home remedies ease chest congestion symptoms and work at best.

1. Hot drinks in cold weather

chest congestion
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Water, in general, keeps the body hydrated and enables mucus production at a standard rate. Stay hydrated to maintain the correct level of mucus. Drink plenty of clear fluids as they clear out the thin mucus and thus give relief to chest congestion symptoms.

Drinking clear fluids, especially when it is warm, is more beneficial as it loosens mucus and clears the passages.

Some of the hot drinks to relieve chest congestion are;

  • Hot tea with lemon and honey
  • Ginger-tulsi or ginger-honey paste
  • Soups (chicken soup or vegetable soup)
  • Warm juices (with no added sugar)
  • Or even hot water can do the work.

2. Saltwater magic

Mix a tablespoon of salt in lukewarm water and gargle. Gurgling with salt water relaxes the irritated throat and helps release mucus.

Gargle several times a day to fully get rid of the irritated throat.

3. Nasal spray to the rescue

A few drops of saline nasal spray clear the excess mucus and other allergens and irritants from the nasal passages. It helps in attaining normal breathing patterns.

4. Hot shower for the cold chest

Take a hot shower or bath. Hot water will help loosen mucus and relieve sinus pressure3. It will also be helpful to maintain the body’s water balance, hence the production of mucus4 in the correct amount.

Washing or rinsing the face with warm water can also remove mucus from the nose and throat, providing relief.

5. Humidifier to remove more phlegm

chest congestion
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Phlegm is the thick mucus deposited in the respiratory tract due to any sickness or irritant.

Use a humidifier or a cool mist vaporizer. These can help remove excess mucus and phlegm to a maximum level and soothe lung irritation.

6. Cure for cough

During chest congestion, a productive cough is more likely to occur. It is not advisable to suppress this cough. A productive cough is a cough with which mucus or phlegm comes out. The more mucus released, the greater the relief.

The ginger-honey paste is beneficial for easing congestion and relieving cough.

7. Stopping the runny nose

A runny nose is irritating. Applying vapour rub in the neck, throat, and chest region gives relief. The minty odour of the vapour rub also cures headaches.

8. Essential oils

chest congestion
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Essential oils like eucalyptus or peppermint oils on the chest have been found to loosen mucus. The oils are natural decongestants, and thus, chest congestion can be treated easily.

9. Avoid allergens

Try to stay away from food items to which you have allergies. Even secondhand smoke is dangerous during chest congestion.

Stay away from chemicals, certain fragrances, pollution, dust, and smoke, as these can make you feel more uncomfortable.

10. Blow out excess mucus gently

After clearing the mucus from the nose, the chest feels less constricted. Be careful not to blow your nose too harshly, as it can create pressure in veins, causing headaches.

11. Honey and herbs

A teaspoon of honey with warm water controls the overproduction of mucus and can ultimately relieve chest congestion.

You can relieve your sore throat and cough by making a paste from herbs like ivy leaves, thyme, aniseed, and marshmallow leaves.

Reasons for overproduction of mucus

chest congestion
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Now that we know remedies for chest congestion let’s learn why excessive mucus is produced. More mucus production is the primary reason for chest congestion, so we should be aware of the causes of this overproduction of mucus.

Given is the list of things that can enhance mucus production;

  1. Allergies ( from pollen grain, dust, and smoke)
  2. Asthma
  3. Common cold or flu
  4. Diseases like infection in bronchial tubes, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia
  5. Drinking less water, dehydration
  6. Smoking cigarettes and taking alcohol
  7. Consuming a lot of caffeinated drinks
  8. Always staying in a dry environment

Over-the-counter medications

Most of the above-listed home remedies relieve chest congestion. But if none of the home remedies work, it is recommended that you try over-the-counter (OTC) medications5.

Taking pain relievers, cough syrups, and lozenges gives fast relief. However, OTC medications are not usually recommended for children under four years.

Adults may take OTC decongestants5 such as Dristan, Vicks Sinex, Sudafed PE, or Suphedrin. Children over the age of four can take cough syrups and lozenges. However, it is better to consider the doctor’s advice for children under four.

When should you visit a doctor?

It is crucial to understand when it is appropriate to seek medical attention. The earlier the detection, the better the treatment and results.

Chest congestion: If the symptoms persist for more than four days, the individual should consult a doctor. The following points should not be ignored.

  1. The individual is facing more difficulty in breathing or experiencing a tight chest.
  2. The runny nose has turned to a thick fluid discharge.
  3. The translucent mucus has attained a green-yellow colour. It may indicate that a bacterial infection has occurred.
  4. The mucus discharge has blood in it.
  5. The fever does not fade away even after three or four days.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

chest congestion
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1. Will elevating the head help in getting rid of chest congestion?

The mucus clogging your chest will drain to your stomach if you sleep with your head elevated. Your chest will feel less constricted and choked if you do this. The elevating head will give you some relief against chest congestion.

2. How can some lifestyle and environmental conditions create cold and chest congestion?

Always staying indoors in a dry environment, taking excessive amounts of birth control pills and ACE inhibitors, or smoking cigarettes are lifestyle and environmental conditions that can create chest congestion.

3. How does mucus become green-yellow?

The mucus attains colour because some enzymes act when your body shows defensive reactions against foreign bodies. For example, mucus appears green in color because of an iron-containing enzyme.

4. When you have chest congestion, is it okay to eat fruits?

Fruits are rich in soy fibres and are good to eat as they control respiratory tract problems and mucus production. Therefore, it is okay to eat fruits, but not too many at once.

Bottom line

It is very important to remember that the body always produces mucus. Still, a drastic change in mucus production is a symptom that your immune system is fighting against something undesirable and unhealthy.

Everyone should take care of the reasons for chest congestion and try to prevent it. Hope this article aids in your efforts to relax and find some relief from chest congestion.

  1. Mallamaci, Francesca, et al. “Detection of pulmonary congestion by chest ultrasound in dialysis patients.” JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging 3.6 (2010): 586-594. ↩︎
  2. Gheorghiade, Mihai, et al. “Congestion in acute heart failure syndromes: an essential target of evaluation and treatment.” The American journal of medicine 119.12 (2006): S3-S10. ↩︎
  3. Braunwald, Eugene, et al. “Relief of angina pectoris by electrical stimulation of the carotid-sinus nerves.” New England Journal of Medicine 277.24 (1967): 1278-1283. ↩︎
  4. Wrzosek, Laura, et al. “Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii influence the production of mucus glycans and the development of goblet cells in the colonic epithelium of a gnotobiotic model rodent.” BMC biology 11 (2013): 1-13. ↩︎
  5. Schifano, Fabrizio, et al. “Focus on over-the-counter drugs’ misuse: a systematic review on antihistamines, cough medicines, and decongestants.” Frontiers in psychiatry 12 (2021): 657397. ↩︎

Last Updated on by Sathi Chakraborty, MSc Biology

Authors

preranasheee
Sathi Chakraborty, MSc Biology
  1. Reading this article was like having a chest congestion survival guide in one place! It’s like a treasure chest of remedies to tackle those winter-time sniffles and discomfort. 🤧☕🚿Well done!!

  2. The tips are really very helpful. Chest congestion is a very common problem during winters. It is important to find the best remedies for the same.

  3. Sometimes some remedies work and other times they don’t. I really liked that you have mentioned many alternative remedies here. As the northern hemisphere is progressing into the winter, pollen and other allergens really wreck havoc to a already sensitive respiratory system. I think precautions and remedies like these are a must to know and follow when needed.

  4. 11 excellent pointers or can say the best remedies. However, sometimes people make remedies like a scientific method, which just slips off the mind but your way of writing is at ease and I understood almost each pointer.

  5. The winter is soon around the corner in India😭 and I m prone to common cold and finding this article is like a literal LIFE SAVER , I will note down all the preventive measure you suggested and let you know my condition after winter’s.

  6. I read the article about fixing chest stuffiness. It gave good ideas on how to feel better. I like the tips they shared. It’s a nice guide for anyone dealing with this problem.

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