Chest congestion results from an accumulation of mucus in the chest brought on by viruses, germs or prolonged exposure to cold. It is a symptom associated with colds, flu or other respiratory infections. You may experience mild or severe congestion, often accompanied by coughing, wheezing and excessive mucus. But fortunately, there are ways to treat chest congestion. Whether you prefer medications or home remedies, you can quickly ease congestion and improve your condition.
Several over-the-counter medications are available to treat chest congestion and control your symptoms. Take an expectorant with the ingredient guaifenesin to thin and reduce the production of mucus. Additionally, vapor rubs are effective remedies for chest congestion. This medication includes a topical analgesic and a cough suppressant. Apply this medication directly to your chest to control coughing and thin mucus.
Take a Steam Shower
Steam is an effective remedy for different types of congestion--including sinus, nasal and chest congestion. Take a hot shower or sit in a steam room. The moisture and heat thins mucus in the chest and relieves congestion. If unable to sit in a steamy room, place a warm mist or steam humidifier in your bedroom.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
To naturally loosen mucus in your chest, which can result in tightness and coughing, drink plenty of liquids. Ideal choices include water and juices (orange juice and cranberry juice). Orange juice contains vitamin C, which can boost your immune system. Additionally, the citrus in orange juice acts an an expectorant to break up mucus. Hot liquids such as decaf tea and coffee also thin mucus, suppress coughs and ease sore throats. Caffeinated drinks may cause dehydration.
Once an old wives tale, chicken soup is a widely known and effective remedy for chest congestion. Chicken soup loosens mucus in the chest. The liquid from the soup prevents dehydration. And the warmth from the chicken soup can also calm throat irritations.
See a Doctor
Severe chest congestion can signal bronchitis or a chest infection. If symptoms worsen or do not improve with over-the-counter medications or home remedies, make a doctor's appointment. Treating chest congestion and easing symptoms may require an antibiotic or prescription inhaler.