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Chest Congestion Causes

Chest congestion causes that have been identified include common cold, and respiratory illnesses such as flu or bronchitis. To know more about chest congestion, read on...
Nicks J
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Tightness in chest, better known as chest congestion often indicates that the person is suffering from a viral infection. This condition generally occurs in the winter season, but can also affect people during summer months. Chest pain and congestion has been attributed to buildup of large amounts of mucus in the lungs, which makes breathing difficult. Chest congestion is quite uncomfortable and is often marked by intermittent periods of coughing.
Causes
Chest congestion make breathing painful and troublesome. Also, the affected person has to take more effort to inhale and release air. Mucus, that is produced in the respiratory system, prevents foreign particles from entering the lungs. However, due to bacterial or viral infection, the mucus production dramatically increases. This abnormal build up of mucus gets trapped in the respiratory tract causing chest congestion. Post nasal drip, smoking and staying in polluted environment are some of the factors that increase the risk of chest congestion. Other causes are listed below:
Common Cold
People suffering from common cold often complain about chest congestion. The common cold virus causes secretion of mucus in the lungs that gives rise to chest congestion. The attack of the virus on the respiratory system also causes sneezing and a running nose. However, chest congestion that occurs due to common cold is not a cause of worry and can be easily treated.
Flu
Flu, also known as influenza, is a respiratory disease. In this condition, the respiratory membranes get swollen, causing increased mucus production. This constricts airways, resulting into chest congestion.
Asthma
Asthma sufferers also experience a feeling similar to chest congestion. Needless to mention, we all know that in asthma the air pathways that allow uninterrupted inhalation and exhalation of air become narrow due to inflammation. The inflamed airways that are connected to the lungs are unable to carry enough oxygen to sustain normal breathing. The restricted air flow in and out of the lungs leads to shortness of breath and is followed by tightness in chest. Symptoms of this chronic respiratory problem flare up during winter and are more troublesome at night.
Heart Problems
When the heart is not working efficiently, it can have a direct negative impact on the lung function. The heart is involved in regulating blood circulation throughout the body. However, in medical conditions like congestive heart failure (CHF), normal blood flow is disrupted. As a result, the blood that is traveling from the lungs to the heart backs up. Thus, blood flow trying to move in opposite direction can put excessive strain on the veins that are passing through the lungs. This backing up of blood flow damage these veins considerably. The damaged veins are no longer able to sustain this abnormal blood flow, hence some amount of blood fluid spills into the lungs. This condition commonly known as fluid filled lungs also gives a feeling of clogged chest. Chest congestion arising from heart problems is typically marked by edema (build up of fluid) in the hands and feet.
Exposure to Harmful Gases
Breathing air that is polluted with harmful gases or fumes of toxic gases can irritate the airways and the lungs. The body may respond by producing excess mucus in order to trap the toxic matter. This can give a feeling of heavy chest and the person has a hard time breathing properly.
Cystic Fibrosis
This is a genetic disorder in which there too much production of mucus in the lungs. This is a chronic condition that runs in families leads to abnormal build up of mucus in the airways. This limits airflow and causes symptoms such as difficulty breathing and chest congestion.
Bronchitis
People with bronchitis also experience chest congestion. As we all know, bronchitis involves inflammation of the bronchial tubes (the tubes that allow free flow of air into the lungs). As a result, the mucous membranes that line the bronchial tubes also swell, causing mucus production that is greater than normal. Eventually, the mucus thickens and narrows the airways leading to difficulty in breathing. The excess mucus thus produced, remains in the respiratory tract causing chest congestion.
Pneumonia
Pneumonia, one of the reasons behind this heavy feeling in the chest, brings about inflammation of lungs due to bacterial, fungal or viral infection. Pneumonia is a grave illness and can be life-threatening if immediate medical attention is not given. The viral pneumonia is especially known to cause chest pain accompanied by excess mucus buildup in the lungs.
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis (TB), a life-threatening infection that mainly attacks the lungs, is regarded as one of the chest congestion causes. This contagious disease of the lungs is characterized by coughing up of blood and breathing problems. A chest X-ray of people diagnosed with tuberculosis often reveals accumulation of fluid that increases gradually.
Sinusitis
This illness can be one of the reasons behind increased mucus production. Chest congestion is closely related with the occurrence of sinusitis. Sinuses which are nothing but hollow spaces that lie between the bones of our face. Our body has 4 pairs of sinuses and each sinus has its own mucous membrane lining that secrete mucus. Sinusitis that causes inflammation of mucous membrane leads to mucus production in large quantity. As the sinuses and the respiratory system are connected, excess mucus produced gets accumulated in the lungs which causes chest congestion.
Allergies
Allergy induced chest congestion results into blocked nose and watery, itchy eyes. Allergens are substances that irritate the lungs causing an infection. This can manifest in the form of chest congestion. Allergic reactions occur in some people when their lungs are exposed to pollen, dust or other airborne particles. Once the allergens are inhaled, the person experiences nose irritation and frequent bouts of sneezing. The inhaled allergens cause respiratory reactions that leads to mucus production in excess amounts.
Treatment
Treating the root cause of the problem is the best way to fight off chest congestion. This condition cannot be cured unless the cause is diagnosed. Treatment will vary depending upon the cause of illness. The doctors may prescribe certain antibiotics to cure the underlying condition in order to release chest congestion. To know more about treatment read:
Do keep in mind that any medical treatment is most effective and gives the desired results when it is given at the earliest. So treating any of the underlying cause as soon as possible is the best way to relieve chest congestion.