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Throat Congestion

Throat Congestion

Throat congestion can lead to difficulty in swallowing and breathing. Throat or chest congestion is experienced not only during simple ailments like common cold and sinus infection but also during serious medical conditions like pneumonia and asthma. Read on, to know what causes congestion in throat and how to relieve the symptoms like pain and swelling in the throat.
Leena Palande
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
A respiratory infection or an allergy usually leads to increased production of mucus in the lungs and the mucus keeps on coming up in your throat. Throat congestion implies that your bronchial highways are packed tightly with bumper-to-bumper congestion and you're honking and hacking as it's rush hour in your lungs. During such a pathetic situation, inhaling and exhaling becomes very difficult. Some people use the term 'congestion' for the tightness that they experience in their lungs or chest, but in any case, congestion implies difficulty in breathing or feeling short of breath. One suffers from congested throat when the tissues lining the throat become swollen. Widening of the bronchial highways helps eliminate the problems created by the bottleneck. Detecting the exact cause of congestion in throat is essential if you are looking forward to fast recovery.

Causes of Congestion and Pain in Throat
  • Severe bronchitis or pneumonia may lead to stuffy nose, breathing difficulty and sore throat.
  • Asthma or common cold are the main causes of congestion in chest, lungs and throat.
  • Cold and flu can lead to congestion in throat and tightness in chest.
  • As everyone knows, strep throat is one of the most common causes of throat congestion.
  • In some cases tightness and congestion indicate heart trouble.
  • Swollen throat can even be a symptom of lung or respiratory disorders.
  • When an infant or a child swallows a hard object, it may get stuck in child's esophagus leading to a blockage. This type of congestion can be a life-threatening situation.
  • The congestion can be due to bacterial throat infection or viral infections such as chickenpox, measles, etc.
  • Sometimes the factors responsible for the congestion can be irritants in the air, such as pollution, dust, pollen, smoke or chemicals.
  • Smoking/inhaling excessive smoke can cause throat and chest congestion.
  • Excessive secretion of mucus by the sinuses (due to an allergy or infection) and accumulation of mucus in the throat or back of the nose is known as 'post nasal drip'. This can cause irritation, congestion and discomfort in the throat.
Once the causes of the congestion are clear, treatment can be easily designed. The symptoms of congested throat may vary from person to person depending upon the cause and severity of the condition.

  • Feeling short of breath or difficulty in breathing
  • Fever with chills
  • Pain in throat
  • Swelling or inflammation, itchy or scratchy throat is one of the main throat infection symptoms.
  • Dry cough, ear pain, runny nose, difficulty swallowing are some of the common symptoms.
  • Increased production of mucus
  • Dry cough or wheezing is noticed if asthma is the cause of congested throat.
  • Depending upon the severity of the infection, the phlegm that you cough up will be yellow, green or brown.
  • Constricted and swollen bronchial passages
  • Burning sensation in your windpipe
  • Awakening at night with difficulty in breathing
  • Chest pain and palpitations or irregular heartbeats if noticed along with throat congestion, it can be due to heart disease.
  • Cover Your Throat: Cover your throat with warm cloth or muffler. You will feel better.
  • Throwing out Cough: You should cough and get rid of that gunk as early as possible. Opting for cough suppressants is not always good.
  • Gargling: Gargling with warm saltwater solution 3-4 times daily helps prevent infections and congestion.
  • Nasal Drops: Infants usually suffer from nasal or chest congestion when they have congested throat. Consult the pediatrician for proper treatment. He may prescribe nasal drops or other medicines.
  • More Liquids: You should drink plenty of lukewarm water, hot soup, herbal tea, coffee, etc. This would help loosen up and liquefy the mucus that's stuck down in your lungs. Ginger tea works great for swollen throat and chest congestion.
  • Steam: Expose yourself to steam in the bathroom or inhale the steam through the mouth and nose, using a vaporizer, as this would help clear the throat. You can add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the hot water, before inhaling the steam.
  • Cough Syrups: To soothe the irritated throat and to get rid of the symptoms of congestion, you may try over-the-counter cough syrups which help thin out the mucus lodged in your lungs, making it easier to cough up. Other over-the-counter medications like paracetamol, ibuprofen or antiseptic gargles may help relieve the pain and irritation.
  • Proper Medicines: Your doctor will prescribe proper antibiotics to suppress the infection or if it is a case of asthma, he may prescribe bronchodilators, inhalers or pills, to help you breathe easier. He may prescribe a saline nasal spray. You should take all the prescribed antibiotics. Even though you feel better, you should not stop taking the antibiotics earlier.
The shortcuts mentioned above can help you avoid some snarls but you may have to tolerate the congestion until it clears. Instead of opting for over-the-counter medicines, it is always better to consult a physician and take prescribed medicines. This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.