Chest congestion is usually the symptom of a condition that may be caused by a virus or a bacterium, though there could be a host of other reasons. A person suffering from chest tightness or congestion is also likely to experience coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and chest pain. Some patients may cough up blood. Based on the symptoms a doctor diagnoses the root cause of the problem and then begins the treatment. Chest congestion may be nothing more than annoying for adults in most cases when it is caused by a minor ailment like common cold. However, it can be severe for infants and demands immediate medical attention.
Chest congestion may have several causal factors. Common ones include:
- Cold and flu
- Whooping cough
- Heart-valve malfunction
- Lung cancer
- Pulmonary edema
Chest congestion does not have a specific treatment. In the attempt to treat this health condition, a doctor may want a patient to get blood or other body fluids tested, undergo a biopsy, lung-function tests or get an X-ray of the chest. In cases where congestion in the chest is caused by a minor ailment such as common cold, there are over-the-counter medications to relieve you from symptoms. Guaifenesin/Phenylephrine is a combination medication that is used to treat the symptoms (coughing, runny/stuffy nose, congestion) caused by common cold, allergies, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, and other breathing problems. Guaifenesin, which belongs to a class of drugs known as expectorants, thins and loosens the mucus in the airways. This clears chest congestion and makes breathing easier. Phenylephrine belongs to a class of drugs known as decongestants, which causes the blood vessels in the nose and sinuses to narrow, in turn lessening nasal congestion.
Note: Cough and cold products are not considered safe or effective for children younger than 6 years.
Apart from following what the doctor recommends, you can take a few self-care measures at home to make yourself comfortable. However please note that the following remedies are applicable only for chest congestion caused due to minor ailment such as common cold, sinusitis, sore throat and breathing problems. Also, consult your health care provider before opting any of these home remedies because they may not have the same impact on every individual.
#Steam inhalationis a time-tested remedy which helps loosen the mucus. There are a number of ways you can do it. The easiest way is to use a humidifier or vaporizer, whichever is convenient. Another fairly easy option is to boil a large quantity of water and inhale the steam, for about 10 to 15 minutes. More water in the vessel will make the steam last for a longer period. Keep the vessel on the table and lean over it. The distance between the vessel and your face should be around six inches to prevent burning. Drape a towel around your head so that it covers your face as well as the vessel. This will concentrate the steam in proper direction and prevent the water from cooling down early. Close your eyes, and start inhaling the steam slowly through your nose. This will clear out the congestion. Continue inhalation as long as you are feeling comfortable. To make it more effective, you can also add a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint oil to the water. Another method could be to run a hot shower in your bathroom for around 5-10 minutes and inhaling the steam. While doing so keep in mind that you have to inhale the steam through the nose and exhale it through mouth. This will loosen the mucus and clear your nasal passages giving you relief.
# Most people find relief from congestion bysniffing eucalyptus oil. Put a few drops of the oil on a clean washcloth, and sniff taking deep breaths. You can also heat the oil, and then massage it on the chest and throat. Ensure that the oil is not too hot.
# Along with these, you can alsoapply olive oil to the chest and massageit for a few minutes until the oil is completely absorbed in the skin. Doing this frequently will provide much relief.
# In addition to above remedies, you canboil a few garlic cloves with water and drink the liquid twice daily. This will relieve your throat as well as the chest from congestion.
#Garglingis another chest congestion reliever. Take a glass of lukewarm water and add half a teaspoon of salt to it, and gargle with it. Repeat it several times a day for better results.
Making a few changes in your diet may also help relieve chest congestion. Here is a list of foods to eat and to avoid in order to get relief from the problem:
Foods to EatVeggies
- All green vegetables
Foods to Avoid
- Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese)
- Bread and white flour containing sugars
- Wheat-based foods
Above all, drink plenty of water. It helps loosen the phlegm and cough it out from the throat. It is also advisable to consume plenty of other fluids, especially those rich in vitamin C. You can also go for warm peppermint or chamomile tea, and chicken soup. If your symptoms do not improve or subside with these measures, it is recommended to see you health care provider at the earliest. Take care!
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.