Almost every person experiences a chest congestion at some stage, especially during colder months, when the immune system of the body is weakened and we become more prone to viral and bacterial infections. Chest congestion is normally not a serious health problem and can be easily treated at home, but in some cases, when it results from various diseases, like pneumonia or bronchitis, it must be given special attention, otherwise it may develop into a serious condition.
Causes Of Chest Congestion
The air we breathe contains dust, viruses, bacteria and various allergens. When they get into our respiratory system, they get trapped in the mucus and may accumulate in the lower tract of the respiratory system. Normally we just cough it out, but in certain conditions, like when the body immune system doesn’t work properly, the viruses and bacteria we breathe in may cause an infection, which is usually accompanied by chest congestion. Apart from being the result of a common cold, chest congestion may be a symptom ascribed to sinusitis and post-nasal drip, pneumonia, airborne allergies, asthma, tuberculosis and many other diseases.
Symptoms Of Chest Congestion
Whenever mucus and liquids accumulate in excess amounts in the chest, it feels heavy and we have difficulty breathing, which may – depending on the extent of the congestion – cause a major discomfort and pain, especially at night. Blocked respiratory tract makes it difficult for the oxygen to get into the blood circulation system, which in turn makes you feel more tired or even dizzy. When you suffer from chest congestion, you may also have the feeling of tightness in your chest, have a runny nose and hear a loud noise while breathing. In some cases, blood may be present in the mucus you cough out and your throat may be sore, red and swollen, both due to the presence of viruses and the fact that you cough a lot.
How To Prevent Chest Congestion
In certain seasons, it is very difficult to avoid chest congestion as we are much more exposed to ubiquitous viruses present in the air. However, if you boost your immune system and take good care of your respiratory system, you have high chances of staying clear of this problem. First of all, avoid smoking as it damages both upper and lower respiratory system. In colder months increase the intake of vitamin C, either through the diet or supplements. Keep your body well hydrated at all times and get a lot of rest so that your body has enough energy to fight off any potential infections.
It is also important to look after your blood circulation system through regular, mild exercise, which tends to be forgotten in winter months. Good blood circulation facilitates the transport of vitamins and nutrients to all the cells of the body, including the respiratory system. This way it’s easier for your lungs to face the infections, which are the most frequent causes of chest congestion.
Home Remedies For Chest Congestion
It is quite common to cure chest congestion with over the counter medicines, but their repetitive use has a bad influence on the liver and with time may become less and less effective. It also costs a lot if the problem reoccurs frequently. That’s why it’s worth trying some home remedies, which give great results in the treatment of chest congestion and are entirely safe for your health.
Salt has antiseptic properties and helps fight off the bacteria present in the throat. What’s more, it reduces the pain, swelling and redness caused by repetitive coughing. In order to get some noticeable relief from those symptoms and to facilitate the removal of mucus from the respiratory tube, prepare a gargle from boiled water and salt (2 tablespoons of salt for each glass of water) and use it four to five times a day. Don’t swallow it, just take a swig of the solution and gargle for one or two minutes, then spit it out. Use this method as soon as you notice first symptoms of chest congestion or a sore throat.
Honey is probably the best medicine that nature gave us as it has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. It’s like an antibiotic that can be used without any side effects. When you suffer from chest congestion, honey will additionally help reduce the thickness of mucus, which will allow for a faster and less painful removal of it from the respiratory tract. Honey can be consumed in various ways, but you always need to make sure you don’t heat it too much as it looses it properties in high temperatures. Try eating two to three teaspoons of raw, organic honey every day or add it to a glass of warm but not too hot milk. Honey also makes a great sweetener that can be used for herbal teas. In general, it is a very good idea to incorporate honey in your diet not only when you fight chest congestion, but as a means of regular prevention against a wide range of health problems.
Onion has anti-inflammatory properties and helps fight off chest congestion in a very quick and effective way. If you like the taste of raw onion, you can simply add it to your sandwiches or salads. If you are not a big fan of this strong flavour, however, you can prepare some onion syrup with some powerful, but tasty ingredients. Peel one onion and grind it into a paste. You can use the paste for the syrup or extract the juice from it by pressing it through a sieve.
Add juice from half a lemon and two teaspoons of honey. Mix it well and heat gently, but make sure you don’t bring it to boil. If the mixture is too thick, you can add some water to it so that it’s easier to swallow. Alternatively, you can prepare onion syrup simply by soaking a few slices of fresh onion in honey. Cut the onion, place it in a bowl and cover it entirely with honey. Leave it overnight, remove the onion from the bowl and take a teaspoon of the onion and honey syrup three to four times a day until the symptoms of chest congestion are gone.
Garlic works like a natural antibiotic and is a very effective home remedy for chest congestion. It works best when it’s eaten raw, but those who don’t like its taste can also reach for garlic supplements, which are usually tasteless and odourless. Alternatively, you can crush three to four cloves of garlic and mix them with a teaspoon of honey. Add a teaspoon of this mixture to a cup of warm milk and drink it twice a day. Warm milk alleviates the pain caused by prolonged coughing and honey and garlic fight off the viruses and gives a boost to your immune system by providing vitamins A, C and B as well as copper, iron, calcium and selenium.
Everybody knows that vitamin C is crucial for an effective treatment of cold, flu and chest congestion. The best way to increase its daily intake is to incorporate more citrus fruits in your diet. Lemon is one of the fruits with the highest level of vitamin C, therefore, is highly recommended during bacterial and viral infections. There are various ways in which you can use lemon while fighting off chest congestion. You can leave a wedge of lemon in water overnight and drink it throughout the day. It’s best if you heat the lemon water slightly just before consumption.
Alternatively, you can squeeze the juice of half a lemon into half a cup of water and drink it first thing in the morning. You can also add a teaspoon of honey into this mixture to get even better results. Repeat twice a day to loosen the mucus, make it easier to remove it from the respiratory tract and to boost the body’s immunity.
Ginger gives a great boost to the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties. It also slows down the production of mucus and loosens the one accumulated in the respiratory system, therefore, make a perfect home remedy for chest congestion. You can use fresh or dry ginger in the treatment. Take a few pieces of fresh ginger and put it into a glass of hot water. Leave it for 15 minutes, take it out and drink the water with a teaspoon of honey. This mixture will also soothe the pain in your throat as well as reduce its swelling and redness. Alternatively, you can add fresh ginger to your home-made fruit juices or use dry, ground ginger and mix it with hot milk and honey. Take some ginger in your preferred form three times a day and you chest congestion will go in no time.
Bay leaf can also be used in various forms to help get rid of chest congestion. It has antibacterial and soothing properties. You can make some bay leaf tea by soaking four to five bay leaves in a glass of hot water for 10 minutes and drinking it as long as it’s warm. A bay leaf compress can give you a significant relief from chest congestion, too. Boil a cup of water with a few bay leaves. Soak a clean, cotton cloth in the water and place it on your chest. You can repeat the process two or three times or as long as the water is warm. This compress facilitates breathing and improves blood circulation in the treated area, which accelerates the healing process.
Drinking thyme tea gives your lungs a great protection against bacteria and inhibits the spreading of the infection. Boil a cup of water, take it off the heat and add half a teaspoon of thyme in it. Let it soak for five to ten minutes and drain it. Drink this herbal tea three times a day. You can also use thyme oil diluted in olive oil to rub it into your chest. It is especially helpful if you do it before bedtime as it opens the blood vessels and facilitates the oxygen flow, which in turn make you breathing much easier.
Drinking a lot of liquids is very important when you have chest congestion as it prevents you from getting dehydrated when you produce a lot of mucus and perspire more due to fever. Some of the most effective hot drinks you can have while fighting a chest congestion are lemon and honey tea or herbal tea prepared from chamomile, ginger or the previously mentioned bay leaf or thyme. Drink those teas as often as you want, preferably alternating the recipes in order to give your immune system a proper boost.
another hot drink that might be very beneficial in the treatment of chest congestion is black coffee. It improves blood circulation and the flow of oxygen so it can facilitate the breathing. Additionally, it helps clear the mucus out of the respiratory system. Make sure, however, you only drink as much coffee as you feel comfortable with cause excessive intake of caffeine might lead to high blood pressure and the feeling of anxiety, which will be accompanied by a short, low breath that will cause further discomfort.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a solution for a very wide range of health problems due to its versatile properties. It has antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Drinking undiluted vinegar is not something everyone can do, not only because of the taste but also because it might get your stomach upset. The best way to drink vinegar is to dilute a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in half a cup of warm water. Add a teaspoon of honey for extra healing benefits and a better flavour, then drink it. Repeat the process twice a day to get rid of chest infection fast. Alternatively, you can do an inhalation with hot water and apple cider vinegar. Boil some water, put it in a bowl and add three teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. Sit with your face over the bowl, cover your head and the bowl with a towel and inhale the steam. It’s better to close your eyes while you’re doing this inhalation as apple cider vinegar might irritate them.
Inhalations are one of the best ways to relieve the discomfort caused by chest congestion. Inhaled steam hydrates the respiratory system, loosens the mucus and helps to clear it out from your lungs, throat, nasal cavity and sinuses. You can inhale pure steam (also while taking a shower or a hot bath) or you can prepare an inhalation with herbs or essential oils, like eucalyptus or peppermint oil. Whether you use a special inhalation device or simply a bowl with hot water, it is more than sure that hot steam will give you a great relief from chest congestion.
Another way to loosen the accumulated mucus through the use of a higher temperature is a hot pack or a compress. Heat some water, soak a cloth in it, wring it out and place over your chest and your throat. For best results, add some cloves and fenugreek seeds to the water. This will additionally improve the blood circulation in the treated area. You can also use a hot water bottle to avoid the necessity of re-soaking the cloth. Whatever way you decide to do it, make sure that the temperature is high enough for the treatment to be effective, but not too high so that it doesn’t burn your skin.
Liquorice has soothing properties and gives a huge relief when you suffer from a sore throat. It also accelerates the process of mucus removal from the respiratory tract due to its expectorant properties. You can make a liquorice and honey tea. Just put half a teaspoon of both ingredients into a glass of warm water and let it steep for two minutes. Drink it slowly to get an instant relief from chest congestion symptoms. You can also use ground liquorice and add it to your regular tea two to three times a day. Make sure you don’t overuse it if you have high blood pressure, though.
Curcumin contained in turmeric also has expectorant properties and may speed up the process of your respiratory system healing. On top of that, it prevents the infection from spreading as it has anti-inflammatory properties. You can add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric and a teaspoon of honey to half a cup of warm milk. Mix it well and drink twice a day. You can also prepare a gargle with a teaspoon of turmeric and a cup of warm water. Use this mixture to gargle two to three times a day in order to soothe the pain and get a quick relief from chest congestion.
Radish has been used for many years as a home remedy for chest congestion related to bronchitis, cold and allergies. Radish can be added to sandwiches, eaten raw or mixed with lemon juice and taken like a medicine. Just chop one radish, squeeze some fresh lemon juice and pour it over the radish. Leave it overnight and eat it in the morning. An alternative way of using the benefits of radish is to buy some radish oil and rub it on your chest. Make sure you don’t do it before bedtime, though, as this natural remedy has expectorant properties and you will spend the night coughing, rather than sleeping.
Whoever likes reaching for homoeopathic remedies, has a wide range of products that can be used for the chest congestion. For example, Bryonia alba relieves the symptoms of a dry cough, as well as soothes a headache. For a wet cough, you can use natrum muriaticum that helps remove the accumulated mucus from the respiratory tract. If you don’t know what kind of cough you have, you can choose to tray kali bichromicim, which may bring relief in both cases.
How To Boost The Recovery Process
Apart from using home remedies or over the counter medicines for chest congestions, there are some things you can do to relieve the symptoms of and speed up the healing process. First of all, make sure you stay well hydrated, either by drinking water or herbal tea with some lemon juice and honey. In order to keep your respiratory system well hydrated, you can also use a humidifier in your bedroom as it will help you breathe better and get better rest, which is extremely important when your body is fighting a battle against bacteria and viruses.
Pay a special attention to your diet and make sure it’s rich in vitamin C. Increase the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and try to choose natural, organic products. Avoid processed and fried foods because with them you deliver a huge portion of toxins to your body and instead of focusing on getting rid of chest congestion, it must waste precious energy on removing the toxins, too. Obvious as it may seem, we also want to mention that you should reduce or quit smoking when you suffer from a chest infection. This condition is a sign that your respiratory system is in a bad condition and if you continue smoking during the treatment, it may last for weeks or even months.
When To See The Doctor
In normal conditions, the chest congestion shouldn’t last more than two weeks. If you treat it on your own, either with home remedies or some over-the-counter products, but see no improvement after that time, you should contact the doctor. Also, pay attention to any extra symptoms that accompany the chest congestion as they may indicate that you are suffering from a more serious condition, like e.g. bronchitis, pulmonary edema, pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis, croup or even lung cancer. It’s better to be safe than sorry so if you notice anything unusual, contact your doctor so he can give you the diagnosis and prescribe an appropriate treatment, if necessary.