Chest congestion is the formation and accumulation of fluid and mucus in the lower respiratory tract, that is the lungs and in some extreme cases, the Bronchi. It is one of the most easily diagnosed medical conditions as it has a wide range of symptoms that cause a lot of discomfort to the sufferer. These include: Cough, sometimes uncontrollable, chest pains, difficulty in breathing and chest pain which in some cases may be severe to the point of making mobility a painful task. Other symptoms include a headache due to low oxygen levels in the blood as a result of insufficient oxygen taken in by the lungs and a cracking or wheezing sound that is produced whenever the sufferer breaths.
Chest congestion comes about as a result of the body responding to a responding to a respiratory infection such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Other causes include post nasal drip, severe asthma or an allergic reaction in the lungs. People from warm climates often get it when they move from a warm region to a cold region or when the cold season sets in. Chest congestion occurs mainly in young children whose immune systems are developing as well as the elderly whose immune systems are weakening. People who have compromised immune systems are also more prone to the infections that cause chest congestion and thus get it more frequently.
In most cases, chest congestion is not life threatening but rather it is a symptom of another medical condition that one may be suffering from. Treatment of the medical condition usually results in the congestion clearing away . Medical treatment may involve using a combination of several drugs including:
Cough suppressants – These reduce the urge to cough. Coughing may result in spreading the infection to other people
Expectorants – These class of drugs loosen the mucus in the lungs and airways by making it thinner and thus easing breathing.
Antibiotics – If the infection is as a result of a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to combat the bacteria.
Depending on the cause, other medications that may be prescribed include antihistamines and asthmatic inhalers.
There are several home remedies that can be used to alleviate the symptoms and help keep the airway passages and thus ease breathing, these include:
Consuming plenty of warm fluids. This not only helps in loosening the congestion but also suppresses coughing as well as keeping the body well hydrated.
Consuming spices. This helps in reducing mucus levels in the airways. Peppers work the same way on the lungs as menthol does to the nose i.e. they act as decongestants. Other foods such as onions and garlic also have the same effect.
Consume Dairy products. Warm milk as well as cheese and yoghurt help in reducing mucus production in the airways.
Consume plenty of vegetables and fruits. These provide the body with the necessary nutrients needed to recover from an attack on the immune system. Vitamin C and Vitamin E in particular act as immune boosters and thus accelerate the rate of recovery.