Chest congestion is an annual winter rite of passage for millions of Americans. Each year, people expect to get cold, cough, sore throat or chest congestion in winters and they get it! Many even pass it around to their friends and co-workers. Often, viruses are responsible for chest congestion and colds. The viruses first infect the sinuses as well as the oral and throat passage before causing mucous and heaviness in the chest region. Not only does one feel sick, tired and low physically; mentally too chest congestion and colds lead to lower productivity and depressed state of mind. In this guide we will study some natural remedies for chest congestion in adults and kids. Most remedies are preventive in nature but some are restorative and you can use them to stop colds and coughs in their tracks.
1. Drink plenty of fluids
It is true: this simple remedy for chest congestion and wheezing will help you flush out the mucous from the body. People who drink plenty of water are naturally known to suffer less from colds and coughs than those who drink fewer than 8 glasses of water daily.
2. Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is a natural state for the body which helps it recover from the attacks it has faced during the day from pollutants and toxins. Resting for 8 hours each day can help prevent coughs, cold and boost the immune system. Research has also shown that lack of sleep reduces the immune function causing frequent colds and coughs.
3. Wash your hands frequently
This remedy can help prevent many illnesses and must be used not just in the flu season but all year round. Our hands constantly come in contact with microbes when we touch surfaces such as the keyboard of the computer, the desks in office, the doorknobs etc. So wash your hands before you eat or touch your face. You can also use a hand sanitizer but many alcohol based sanitizers are very drying on the skin.
4. Cough and sneeze in a tissue paper or your elbow
This is a good hygiene remedy that can prevent you from spreading the virus around. When you cough in your elbow, you restrict the viruses rather than letting them get air borne. So follow this simple preventive remedy to contain the microbes.
This is one of the simplest yet most effective home remedies for chest congestion in kids, adults, and toddlers. Jumping activates the lymphatic system and allows the sinuses to drain the mucous that is causing that heavy congested feeling. Jumping on a trampoline for 10 to 20 minutes 3-4 times a day can relieve headaches caused by congestion in the nasal area. You might not feel like jumping, but it will definitely give you results.
6. Use essential oils
Essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus rubbed on the chest and upper back area are some of the best remedies for chest congestion in babies and infants, though even adults and toddlers would benefit from it. 1-2 drops of these oils rubbed in the back and chest can assist in loosening the mucus in the chest. Eucalyptus oil is also very soothing and relaxing for the lungs and prevents chest congestion from worsening into a bad cough. Use these oils judiciously especially if they are highly concentrated. You could also dilute them first in carrier oils before application. Discontinue use if the oils cause a rash.
7. Steam inhalation with essential oils
Add a few drops of eucalyptus, basil or thyme essential oils to boiling water in a steamer and inhale it. This will relieve chest and nasal congestion quickly.
8. Support your system with herbs
Many herbs like ginger are very effective as home remedies when suffering from severe chest congestion. Simply chop or grate some ginger and boil it in water for 20 minutes. Then, add a teaspoon of honey to make a strong congestion-reliving tea. Drink this tea three to four times a day. Together, ginger and honey help in loosening the mucous. They also soothe the irritated throat passage to prevent coughs and sore throat.
9. Increase your intake of vitamin C
The moment you feel the onset of cold, increase your dosage of vitamin C blended with bioflavonoids. These enhance the immune system and prevent the chest congestion from worsening. Vitamin C also increases the levels of interferon- a chemical that fights colds and coughs-and helps strengthen the mucous membrane lining the respiratory tract. Take 1000 to 2000 mg of vitamin C daily. (If you experience loose stools, reduce your intake of vitamin C as it means your body is throwing out the excess).
10. Lifestyle changes-quit caffeine and nicotine
As a part of the effective home remedies for chest congestion for adults, one must give up smoking. Smoking increases your chances of developing bronchitis by directly impacting the mucosa. Also other lifestyle changes like reducing intake of caffeine can help. Caffeine adheres to and reduces absorption of many vital minerals and vitamins thereby weakening the immune system.
11. Incorporate regular exercise in daily routine
It is true: couch potatoes and obese people often unknowingly impact their immune system thereby suffering from frequent coughs and colds. Daily exercise of 30 minutes can help strengthen the immunity. It is best to exercise outdoors in fresh air rather than in a gym with stale air circulating over and over. This will reduce your exposure to allergens and prevent respiratory issues.
12. Deep breathing exercises- blow balloons!
Many deep breathing exercises are known to relieve chest congestion and also prevent coughs and colds if done on a daily basis. You can regularly blow balloons to increase your chest capacity and get rid of the heavy congested feeling.
13. Include garlic, onion and leeks in your diet
These foods contain antiseptic oils that disinfect the membranes of the lungs and respiratory system to prevent chest congestion.
14. Avoid sugar
Reduce your intake of sugar in all its forms-it lowers your immunity by 50% by preventing the white blood cells from engulfing and destroying foreign particles leading to infection. So, avoid sweetened tea/coffee, soda pop, diet sodas as well as commercial fruit juices as part of home remedies to fight chest congestion.
15. Reduce dairy intake
Products like cheese, milk, and dairy products enhance mucous formation and can aggravate the chest congestion.
16. Topical application-warm compress
While sleeping, apply a warm compress such as a hot water bag or bottle to the chest. The heat will reduce the mucous and help you sleep better. You can also make homemade mustard poultice –a traditional home remedy for bronchitis and pneumonia- to fight the chest congestion in kids or adults. (To make the poultice- mix one part of dry mustard powder with 3 parts flour. Add just a little water to make a paste. Apply this paste in a thick layer to a thin cloth such as cheesecloth. First apply some cream or oil to the chest as a protective barrier to prevent the skin from blistering. Now apply the mustard pack to the chest. Do not leave on for more than an hour else the skin might blister.)
17. Do immune strengthening meditation
It is no secret that our mind and body are connected. Practicing regular immune strengthening meditation can help the body fight all kinds of infections. This is a simple meditation where you lie on the back in a comfortable position. Focus all of your attention on your breath for 5-10 seconds. Next, starting at the feet, feel the vibrations in the feet, slowly moving upwards, feeling the vibrations in every part of the body from legs to the head. Do this twice a day as a part of home remedies for preventing and reliving chest congestion and wheezing.