Chest congestion! It is not a condition essentially associated with your heart, but a symptom that indicates infection in the respiratory system, heart disease or simply an indication of common cold. Experiencing a feeling of tightness or hardness or extra pressure in your chest when you breathe is considered as chest congestion.
Chest Congestion and Infection of Respiratory System
Chest congestion is very similar to a blocked or stuffy nose. It is characterized by accumulation of mucus in the lower part of the respiratory system as well as inflammation of the airways. It happens due to excessive accumulation of mucus in the lungs and airway, inflammation and irritation in the respiratory tube (which might occur due to viral, bacterial infection) dust and seasonal allergies that affect mucus membranes.
Your nasal path becomes stuffy and congested due to cold and infection, which affects normal breathing. Similarly, the chest becomes congested due to cold and infection, which also leads to breathing problem.
Common Causes of Chest Congestion
Some of the common causes of chest congestion include the following:
- Common cold
- Infection in the respiratory tract or lungs
- Viral and bacterial infection
- Excessive accumulation of fluids inside the lungs
Other Causes of Chest Congestion
Anything that affects the mucus membranes lead to chest congestion. Chest congestion is also caused due to heart related conditions. Chest congestion may call for an emergency medical intervention to save life in some other instances too. It implies a sort of obstruction in the flow of air to the lungs. Poor oxygen supply can be life threatening.
Other causes of chest congestion that are not associated with respiratory problem include the following:
- Acid Reflux / GERD
- Pulmonary Edema (swelling or inflammation of the organs / cells / tissues)
- Heart disease
- Airborne allergies
- Cystic fibrosis
Chest congestion is experienced even by kids and toddlers. Although, it is not a major problem to worry a lot if it is accompanied by cold or respiratory problem, seeking remedies for chest congestion relief is imperative.
The most common cause of chest congestion is common cold. Make sure you follow proper remedies to get rid of cold immediately to prevent chest congestion.
How to Deal With Chest Congestion
When left untreated, chest congestion may get worse over time and impact your breathing. To get relief from chest congestion, you should know certain facts. Following are a few things that can help you with chest congestion relief.
Say YES to Expectorant
Coughing can affect your daily routine and even obstruct your sleep. You may like it or not, expectorants help you remove the phlegm from your body and provide relief from chest congestion. Expectorants loosen the mucus and decongests. Following are some of the natural expectorants you can try to get rid of chest congestion:
A miraculous ingredient provided by the Mother Nature has amazing healing properties. It soothes the irritated airway and loosens all those phlegm in your chest. Consume no more than two teaspoons of honey, for no more than two times a day. Avoid feeding honey to infants and toddlers, aged less than two years.
Inhale the exciting aroma of herbs
Just inhale the aromatic herbs like eucalyptus, rosemary, mint, sage, thyme, chamomile, etc. to get rid of productive cough. You can also inhale the aroma of essential oils made with these herbs. Just apply 2-3 drops of essential oils onto a clean cloth and inhale its aroma. You may also add few drops of essential oils or the herbs themselves to warm water and inhale the aromatic steam to get rid of chest congestion.
You can also buy some over-the-counter expectorants. However, it is not safe to administer the OTC drugs to children who suffer from chest congestion.
Avoid Cough Suppressant
Cough suppressants may help you get a sound sleep for a while but they worsen the condition of chest congestion in the long run. When you have a congested chest, coughing is normal. It is to help you expel all the cough that has accumulated in your chest. So, try to cough more to expel more mucus and get relief from chest congestion. The earlier remedy of using expectorants is good to expel cough. If your cough troubles you a lot, just chew some cough candies.
Poha – A safe way to suppress cough
Poha is the flattened rice, also called beaten rice. It is a dehusked rice which is flattened into flat light dry flakes and used extensively in India for many tasty dishes. Poha is also a natural cough relaxant. It reduces irritation and cough, and doesn’t allow accumulation of mucus in the chest region.
Take a handful of poha and hold it inside mouth, on any (or both) side of cheek. Don’t chew or swallow it. Let the poha stay inside your cheeks and swallow the juice your mouth secrets. This is the simple home remedy to suppress cough naturally.
Try to Stay Relaxed
Don’t panic when you feel congested. Remove tight clothes and wear comfortable, loose clothes. Breathe deeply and get some fresh air.
Drain the mucus by Elevation
Don’t lie flat on your back. Keep the upper body and head elevated to help you drain mucus from the chest. When you sleep at night, keep the head and chest elevated. It prevents overnight buildup of mucus and chest congestion.
Gargle with warm salt water
Gargling is not something that everyone loves to try. However, it is one of the easiest methods to decongest the mucus from the airway and lungs, which provides relief from chest congestion. It also breaks apart the mucus obstructing the nasal path and provides relief from stuffy nose.
- Add one teaspoon salt and a pinch of turmeric powder to a glass of warm water, dissolve it well.
- Take a swig and gargle for a minute or two.
- Try to swish the water and bring it down to the throat as far as possible.
- Don’t swallow the water, you might vomit.
- Keep gargling until the water in the glass finishes.
- Do it 3 or 4 times a day. You will find good relief from chest congestion quickly.
Take a hot shower
If you feel congested, take a hot shower, though keep the temperature of water tolerable. Let the hot water and the steam flow directly on your chest and upper body.
Simple Home Remedies for Chest Congestion Relief
To get relief from chest congestion, you should remove the mucus / phlegm accumulated and deposited in the chest area. You should loosen the mucus and gradually remove it from chest region. You can effortlessly get rid of chest congestion by trying any of the following home remedies.
The basic remedy for chest congestion relief is hot liquids. Following are some of the simple methods you can try for chest congestion relief.
1. Drink Hot Water frequently
Whether or not you feel thirsty, drink a glass of hot (read warm!) water every hour or two. Hot water dissolves the thick mucus that causes chest congestion. You should also drink more water (plain water and not warm one!) to eliminate phlegm. Drinking more water helps make the cough thinner which is easier for body to expel.
2. Onions for Chest Congestion Relief
Onions are one of the overlooked remedies for chest congestion relief. It contains quercetin and sulfur, both of which help loosen and eliminate mucus from your chest, ease breathing and provide relief from chest congestion. You can eat onions in many forms.
- Eat 3 or 4 raw shallots (small onions). It will be difficult to eat raw shallots, yet try it and you will find relief. (This is one of the effective remedies for chest congestion you can try before going to sleep)
- Sautee the chopped onions in a few drops of cooking oil and consume it.
- Grind the raw onion and extract the fresh onion juice. Add 1 tsp honey, few drops of fresh lemon juice and a half a glass of water, consume it immediately.
Ginger is the most sought after ingredient for many health problems. Ginger can cure chest congestion caused by numerous conditions. Whether it is caused by cold or mucus accumulation, indigestion or gastric reflux, inflammation of the mucus membrane or allergy, you can find relief from chest congestion when you consume ginger.
For chest congestion, you can use ginger in many ways.
4. Ginger and honey mixture
You can simply shred the raw ginger, add honey and consume it. (Take no more than two teaspoons of ginger and honey mixture)
Ginger and honey tea
- Crush the raw ginger and add it to the boiling water.
- Add a teaspoon of honey and consume it.
Dry ginger paste
You can apply the dry ginger paste on the chest to get rid of chest congestion.
- If you have dry ginger powder, just add water and make a watery paste, apply on the chest. Wash off when it gets completely dried.
- If you have dry ginger rhizome, rub the rhizome on a wet stone and extract the paste. Apply the paste on chest.
If the dry ginger paste irritates you, immediately remove it with warm water.
5. A bowl of chicken soup
Chicken soup is one of the most common remedies for chest congestion relief. Drinking the hot soup breaks through the mucus and reduces inflammation in the chest region as well as lungs. Use black pepper in chicken soup as it soothes the airway and speeds up the process of elimination of mucus.
6. Warm Lemon Juice
Lemon is rich in vitamin C, which builds body’s immunity. It helps prevent bacterial infection and loosens the mucus accumulated in your chest region. Add fresh lemon juice to the glass of hot or warm water, grate the lemon rind (it contains more nutrients than lemon juice itself), and drink it warm.
7. Garlic and Lemon Soup
Vegans can try garlic and lemon soup to get rid of chest congestion. Both garlic and lemon contain anti-inflammatory properties and aid in chest congestion relief.
- 2 to 3 lemons
- 5 to 6 pods of garlic
- Two cups of water
- A pinch of salt or as required
- 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
If you have vegetable stock, you can add it instead of water.
- Boil two cups of water (or vegetable stock) and add peeled and crushed garlic to the boiling water.
- Let the water boil for 3 to 5 minutes (You may also add fresh garlic paste).
- Add salt and pepper.
- Remove the liquid from flame and add lemon juice to the hot soup. (Don’t add lemon when water is boiling).
- Mix it well and drink immediately.
You will find instant relief from chest congestion.
8. Eat Parsley
Parsley aka Coriander or cilantro contains a lot of healing power. Eating fresh parsley leaves breaks up the accumulated mucus. Eating parsley releases anti-histamines into the body, that naturally fight off the infections caused by allergens and clears the phlegm.
9. Eat and Relish the aroma of Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds come handy to help you get relief from upset stomach. It is also one of the aromatic herb spices you can use to get rid of chest congestion.
- Chew raw fennel seeds.
- Soak fennel seeds in a glass of hot water, consume it after 15 minutes.
- Dry roast the fennel seeds and inhale the aroma of the fennel.
10. Golden Milk for Chest Congestion Reliefs
Turmeric is a wonder ingredient! It has numerous healing and curative properties. In ancient days, people in Asian countries used to heat the dried rhizome of turmeric and inhale the smoke. Cold, cough, infections, chest congestion and a majority of respiratory problems can find cure in turmeric.
This simple recipe can help you sleep tight without chest congestion.
Golden milk is nothing but turmeric milk.
11. Golden Milk Recipe for Chest Congestion Relief
- One glass of milk
- One or two teaspoons of turmeric powder
- One cardamom pod
- One or two teaspoons of palm sugar
- Boil the milk and add one or two teaspoons of turmeric powder.
- Add palm sugar (no white sugar please!)
- Since the flavor of the turmeric powder may taste a bit weird, you can add a pinch of cardamom or one cardamom pod.
- Drink it hot or warm.
Licorice is one of the popular herbs used widely in Ayurvedic remedies. It heals a lots of health conditions. Licorice reduces inflammation of the lungs and soothes throat irritation. Licorice is also an expectorant. Just put a piece of licorice into boiling water and drink it.
Remember, licorice is a very powerful herb. Regular consumption of licorice is not recommended. So, eat it sparsely and infrequently.
When you check the above remedies for chest congestion, you will find most of the remedies are liquids and drinks. Drinking liquids loosens phlegm and reduces inflammation.
Avoid foods that lead to inflammation, accumulation of mucus like, dairy products, sugary and high carb foods, salty foods, processed foods, etc.
Decongestant Salve for Chest Congestion Relief
Following are three simple decongestant salves for chest congestion relief you can try at home to get instant relief.
13. DIY Herbal Decongest Salve for Chest Congestion
This is a very simple process and you need just a few ingredients you regularly use in your home.
Coconut oil – Easily gets absorbed into the skin
Eucalyptus oil – reliefs blocks from nasal path and respiratory tube
Camphor – has been used to relief chest congestion for ages, loosens the mucus, reduces inflammation etc.
- ½ cup coconut oil
- A few drops of eucalyptus oil
- A few drops of peppermint oil (optional)
- A few pieces of camphor
- Heat coconut oil in a double boiler
- Once the oil comes to a boil, remove from flame.
- Add up to 10 drops of eucalyptus oil and 5 drops of peppermill oil to the hot oil.
- Add the camphor and mix it well.
- Pour the oil into a cosmetic jar and refrigerate it.
- Let the oil mixture harden in the fridge (Do not freeze)
- Apply the salve on the chest whenever you feel any kind of discomfort in breathing and suffer from chest congestion.
You can use this salve for about 6 months.
14. Betel Leaves for Chest Congestion
One of the folklore remedies for chest congestion relief is betel leaves. Consuming betel leaves after meal is a custom in many cultures. It has many healing properties. Betel leaves contain essential oils. It has an anti-inflammatory and anti-septic element called Phenol, which can provide quick relief from chest congestion. Betel leaves also provide relief from congestion caused due to acid reflux.
Boil betel leaves in water and drink it warm.
You can apply warm betel leaves over chest.
- Apply mustard oil or sesame oil on betel leaves and heat it on a pan (just like you roast something)
- Place the warm (not hot) leaves on chest. Repeat it for 2 to 3 minutes.
Alternatively, chop or crush the betel leaves and add in a cup of mustard oil. Warm the oil and apply it on chest for quick relief from chest congestion.
15. Mustard Plaster for Chest Congestion
Mustard is one of the primary remedies used for heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, and other associated stomach related conditions that may lead to chest congestion, heavy stomach and bloating. You can use the mustard plaster for chest congestion relief.
This recipe clears the mucus from your lungs, treats respiratory infections and decongests your chest as well as respiratory tract.
- 3 to 5 teaspoons of dry mustard seeds
- 1 cup of flour
- Olive oil
- A clean muslin cloth
- Powder the mustard seeds
- Mix the powder and flour
- Add water and make it into a runny paste
- Spread the mixture on the muslin cloth.
- Apply olive oil over the chest area where you intend to place the plaster.
- Place the mustard plaster on the chest.
- Remove it after one hour.
Remember, mustard is very hot and may irritate your skin. So, if you feel any discomfort after applying mustard plaster, just remove it immediately and wash your chest with running water.
Pressure Points for Chest Congestion Relief
- Massage the chest gently. It stimulates your muscles and loosens up the airway, which removes the mucus and aids in decongestion.
- Get a massage on the upper back. Upper back is connected with heart and lungs. Massaging the upper back can provide relief from chest congestion.
- Rub the shoulder joints towards the underarms, on either sides, for 3 to 5 minutes. It has the major lung point. Rubbing this region opens the lungs, clears congestion and helps you breathe easy.
- Smoking aggravates chest congestion. So, don’t smoke and don’t get exposed to second hand smoking too.
- Treat all respiratory problems as well as infections immediately to avoid chest congestion.
- Follow deep breathing exercises daily to enhance the functions of the lungs.
- Use a menthol rub on the chest.
- Avoid consuming fatty, oily foods.
- Identify the cause of chest congestion to get appropriate solution.
Some Quick Tips to Manage and Prevent Chest Congestion
Chest Congestion Relief in Toddlers and Children
Chest congestion makes breathing hard in kids and toddlers. OTC drugs aren’t safe for kids. Although home remedies act as savior, just make sure you don’t try everything under the roof. You cannot try the home remedies or feed the liquids mentioned above for chest congestion relief in kids.
- Let the baby inhale some steam. Pour hot water in a bowl and let the baby inhale the steam. The kid will cough up mucus when the congestion is loosened.
- Apply menthol based rub on the child’s chest for instant relief from chest congestion.
- Use an air humidifier to relieve chest congestion.
- Feed your child with lot of liquid foods like soups, gravies etc.
- Gently tap the baby’s back and chest.
When to seek Medical Care for Chest Congestion Relief
If the condition doesn’t improve even after trying home remedies and persists or aggravates after 3 or 4 days, you should seek medical care and proper treatment. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and pills for decongestion. You may also enquire your doctor about using inhalers for decongestion.
Most of the home remedies mentioned above aids in chest congestion relief caused by respiratory problem as well as stomach problem. However, when it is a sign of a heart disease, you may need further diagnosis and appropriate treatment for chest congestion.