Chest congestion is the heavy sensation in your chest caused by mucus accumulation in the trachea and the respiratory tract. This condition affects most people at some point. Symptoms include throat irritation, shortness of breath, chest tightness, mild chest pain, dizziness, cough and difficulty breathing.
Chest congestion is primarily due to the common cold, although it may be caused by asthma, pneumonia, tuberculosis, flu, allergies, bronchitis, and bacterial and fungal infections. Treatments include over-the-counter and prescribed medicines, but simple and natural home remedies for chest congestion are also effective to relieve the symptoms.
Home Remedies for Chest Congestion
Gargle with Salt Water
One effective treatment for chest congestion is to gargle with hot salt water several times a day. The hot water eases throat irritation, whilst the salt aids the removal of mucus from the respiratory tract.
All you need to do is mix 1 teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water, making sure that the salt is fully dissolved, then gargle with this 2-3 times daily until the congestion is alleviated.
Steam is a quick, effective remedy for congestion, as the heat and moisture help to disintegrate mucus in the respiratory tract.
To gain the benefits of steam treatment, fill a bowl with very hot water and add some drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil. Place a towel over your head, bend over the bowl and breathe in the vapors, taking deep breaths.
Note: This treatment can be used twice a day, but is not suitable for young children, pregnant women, or those with heart problems or high blood pressure.
Turmeric provides rapid relief from congestion, helping you to expectorate mucus. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to relieve coughs and pains.
For an easy home remedy, add a pinch of turmeric to a glass of warm water and gargle this a few times a day.
Note: Turmeric is not recommended for patients with stomach ulcers, gallstones or hyperacidity.
Ginger helps fight infection which is the main underlying cause of chest congestion, and has anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancing effects. It also contains polyphenols, substances which curb mucus secretion.
Try grinding together 1 teaspoon each of dried ginger, cloves and black pepper to create a powder. Split this mixture into 3 parts, then take a portion 3 times a day, mixing the powder with milk or honey.
Onion has anti-microbial properties useful for tackling infections, and is effective in both dissolving and preventing the further accumulation of mucus.
To create an onion-based drink, extract the juice from one onion and combine this with equal quantities of lemon juice, honey and water. Warm this mixture until it is lukewarm and drink 3-4 times daily. Continue until your congestion is relieved.
Drink Lemon and Honey Water
Lemon contains high doses of vitamin C to help clear infections, and citric acid, which dissolves phlegm. Honey is known to be an effective cough remedy. Combine these two ingredients and you have a powerful chest congestion remedy.
Add a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of lemon juice to hot water. For the best chest congestion relief, drink this 3-4 times a day.
Licorice helps chest congestion and coughs by calming inflammation in the throat and lungs, and acts as a natural expectorant.
Mix half a teaspoon of licorice root into a cup of hot water, and allow it to steep for a few minutes, then strain the liquid for a refreshing tea. Drinking it up to three times a day will ease congestion.
Note: This remedy should not be taken by people with high blood pressure.
Try an Expectorant
The mucus found in chest congestion can become thickened if it is allowed to build up and stagnate. This provides a fertile breeding ground for bacteria, raising the likelihood of infection. Cough products, such as Robitussin and Mucinex, which can be purchased over the counter, often contain expectorants, such as guaifenesin, which thin the mucus, promoting clearance.
Note: These products should not be administered to children under the age of 4.
Inhale Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is one of the best home remedies for chest congestion, as it has both anti-bacterial and analgesic qualities.
Add 3-4 drops of this essential oil to a pot of hot water. Place a towel so it covers both your head and the pot which contains the mixture to let the steam drift through your nasal passage. Breathe deeply to allow the vapors to reach your lungs. For the best results, use this treatment twice a day.
Apply a Hot Pack
A hot pack or a steaming hot cloth placed on the throat or chest can ease congestion and externally warms the airways. To use this therapy, lie down with your head raised, put the hot pack or cloth on your chest or throat and let the heat soak through your skin for 10-15 minutes. This will liquefy any mucus in your respiratory tract; you may want to follow this therapy with the steam treatment described above to drain the mucus from your body.
- Make sure that you get adequate sleep to allow your body to rest and keep your immune system strong.
- Using a humidifier at night will help to open the nasal passage to ease breathing difficulties.
- Ensure that your surroundings are dust-free and are regularly cleaned using anti-bacterial sprays or wipes.
- Chicken soup has been shown to reduce lung inflammation and soothe congestion.
- Make sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Drink 2-3 cups of green and herbal teas every day.
- Avoid dairy products, rice, and fried, refined and frozen foods, as these can exacerbate congestion.
- Eat fresh fruit and vegetables rich in essential vitamins every day.
- Avoid alcohol and carbonated drinks, and stop smoking.