Chest congestion is a very common condition that most people have at some point during their lifetime. It is characterized by a buildup of mucus in the trachea and the respiratory tract that leaves your chest feeling heavy. If not treated timely, it can cause an infection in your respiratory tract.
The most common cause of chest congestion is the common cold. Allergens, bacteria and fungi can also cause chest congestion and infection. Some other causes include asthma, bronchitis, the flu, pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Symptoms of chest congestion can make you very uncomfortable and tired due to the short supply of oxygen. Common symptoms include a tightened chest, irritation in the throat, mild chest pain, cough, shortness of breath, dizziness and difficulty breathing.
Both over-the-counter and prescribed medicines can help treat chest congestion. You can also use some simple, natural home remedies to get rid of chest congestion.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for chest congestion.
1. Salt Water
Gargling with salt water several times a day is an effective treatment for chest congestion. While the salt helps remove mucus from the respiratory tract, the hot water reduces irritation in the throat.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water.
- Mix well until the salt is dissolved thoroughly.
- Gargle with it 2 or 3 times daily until your congestion clears.
Inhaling steam is another very effective way to get quick relief from chest congestion as the steam’s heat and moisture help break up and dissolve mucus.
- Fill a bowl with very hot water. Add a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil. Place your face over the bowl and a towel over your head. Inhale the steam for as long as you can and breathe deeply.
- You can also take a hot shower and breathe in the steam vapors for 5 minutes.
Follow either of these remedies 2 or 3 times daily until the congestion goes away.
Note: These remedies may not be suitable for young children, pregnant women and people suffering from high blood pressure or heart conditions.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another effective remedy against chest congestion. It helps thin the mucus in the chest, thus relieving congestion and helping you breathe better. Apple cider vinegar also boosts your immunity, which greatly helps prevent chest congestion in the first place.
- Add 2 teaspoons of organic raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a cup of warm water.
- Mix in 1 teaspoon of raw honey.
- Drink this solution 2 or 3 times a day for a week.
Turmeric has an active compound called curcumin that helps expectorate the mucus and give you quick relief from chest congestion. Also, its anti-inflammatory property helps deal with cough, pain and other symptoms of chest congestion.
- Mix a pinch of turmeric powder in a glass of warm water. Gargle with it a few times daily.
- You can also add ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of milk and boil it. Mix in 2 teaspoons of honey and a pinch of black pepper. Drink it hot 2 or 3 times daily.
- Alternatively, thoroughly mix 2 tablespoons each of turmeric powder and apple cider vinegar. Take it 2 times daily.
Follow these treatments until the symptoms of chest congestion go away.
Note: Turmeric is not recommended for people who have gallstones, hyperacidity or stomach ulcers.
Ginger can also help with chest congestion due to its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. The polyphenols present in ginger help inhibit the secretion of mucus. Plus, ginger fights infection to get rid of the underlying cause of chest congestion.
- Add 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped raw ginger pieces to a cup of hot water. Cover and allow it to steep for 5 minutes. Strain, then add a little honey. Drink up to 3 cups of this warm tea daily.
- Alternatively, grind together 1 teaspoon each of dry ginger, black pepper and cloves to form a powder. Divide it into 3 doses and take it 3 times a day with honey or milk.
- You can even chew small ginger pieces or ginger candies throughout the day to get rid of congestion.
Follow these remedies for a few days or until your chest congestion is treated completely.
Onion is a good remedy for chest congestion. It has quercetin that helps dissolve the mucus. Plus, it prevents further buildup of mucus in the chest. Its antimicrobial properties also help prevent infection.
- Extract the juice of 1 onion. Add equal amounts of lemon juice, honey and water. Heat this mixture until it is lukewarm. Drink this solution 3 or 4 times a day.
- Alternatively, chew and swallow 5 or 6 small onions or shallots along with sugar before you go to bed at night.
- You can also eat raw, baked or cooked onions to help mucus flow easily.
Follow these remedies daily until the chest congestion is gone.
Lemon can also help treat chest congestion naturally. The citric acid in lemon reduces the thickness of the mucus, so that it can be expelled from the body easily. Plus, the vitamin C in lemon helps improve the body’s immunity.
- Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to a glass of hot water along with a little honey. Drink this solution several times daily.
- Another option is to add 1 tablespoon of grated lemon zest to a cup of hot water. Cover and allow it to steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain and drink the warm solution. You can even gargle with it. Follow this treatment 2 or 3 times daily.
Honey is another well-known home remedy for chest congestion as it helps reduce the thickness of mucus. This promotes easy removal of mucus from the respiratory tract. Also, being high in antiviral and antibacterial properties, honey helps fight infection.
- Eat 1 teaspoon of raw honey alone, or mix it with warm water and drink it. This will alleviate congestion for several hours.
- Add enough honey to ½ teaspoon of powdered black pepper to make a paste. Swallow this paste 3 or 4 times daily until you get complete relief from the congestion.
Note: Do not give honey to children under age 1 as it can lead to botulism.
Garlic is another very effective home remedy for reducing chest congestion. Its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties help fight respiratory infections that cause congestion.
Plus, it has nutrients like vitamins A, C and B as well as copper, iron, calcium and selenium that help keep you healthy.
- Boil 2 to 3 crushed garlic cloves and ½ teaspoon of honey in 1 cup of water or milk. Strain and drink it 2 times daily until the congestion clears.
- Another option is to add 2 crushed garlic cloves and juice from 3 lemons to a cup of very hot water. Next, add salt and ½ teaspoon of crushed black pepper. Drink it while it is still warm to get instant relief. Do this 2 times a day for a few days.
- Eating fresh garlic cloves can also help relieve congestion.
Licorice acts as an expectorant and thus can help relieve some symptoms of chest congestion. It will also help soothe your irritated throat.
- Add ½ teaspoon of licorice root to a cup of hot water. Cover and allow it to steep for 5 to 10 minutes, then strain. Add a little honey and drink this tea 2 or 3 times a day.
- Another option is to add ½ teaspoon each of licorice power and ginger powder to a glass of hot water. Drink it 2 times a day.
Follow either of these remedies until your symptoms begin to resolve.
Note: Licorice remedies are not suitable for people who have high blood pressure.
- Drinking chicken soup may help ease chest congestion as it reduces inflammation in the lungs.
- Drink 1 to 2 cups of strong black coffee regularly. You can also drink green tea or any other herbal tea on a regular basis.
- Use a humidifier at night. This will help open your nasal passages so that you can breathe much easier.
- Eat more vitamin-rich fresh fruits and vegetables as well as spicy foods. Stay away from foods that can aggravate congestion, such as dairy products, fried foods, refined foods, frozen foods and rice.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Stay away from carbonated drinks, though.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and quit smoking to get relief from chest congestion.
- Keep your room and surroundings clear of dust and bacteria that cause a buildup of mucus.
- Get sufficient sleep to keep your body strong to fight the congestion.
If your chest congestion is due to the flu and you are experiencing fever, chills, body aches and malaise, it is best to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.