Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, even a slight itch in the throat can cause a lot of anxiety. But with the change in the weather, some people are bound to complain of a sore throat or chest congestion that can make it difficult for them to sleep at night. Mild chest congestion usually clears within 3-5 days but if it stays for long without any sign of relief, you should consult your doctor. Here are a few remedies that you can try at home to get relief from chest congestion.
1. Warm fluids
Consumption of warm fluids is the most popular home remedy for chest congestion. These warm fluids help in thinning the mucus and make it easy to expel with a cough. A study published in the international journal Rhinology in 2008 stated that hot beverages provide immediate relief from congestion and their positive effects stay for a long period of time. They further added that hot drinks can be helpful in relieving other respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, cough, sore throat, and chills. People can consume hot water, bone broths or some herbal teas to get relief from congestion.
2. Steam and gargle
Steaming is one of the easiest and most effective ways of treating upper respiratory tract infections. Steam helps in loosening the mucus, providing immediate relief to the person. For this, you need to fill a large bowl with hot water and lean over the bowl while draping a towel over your head to contain the stream. Breathe in the steam for as long as is comfortable and then drink a glass of water to prevent dehydration.
You can also try gargling with salted warm water as it will help in removing phlegm and mucus from the back of the throat.
Honey is an easily available ingredient which can help in relieving the chest congestion. Studies have shown that honey has antiviral and antibacterial properties which help it fight infection-causing bacteria/viruses. A study conducted in 2007 stated that when children with upper respiratory tract infections were given buckwheat honey, their symptoms were relieved with and without standard medication.
You can consume one tablespoon of honey every 3 to 4 hours until the symptoms ease. People with diabetes and infants under 12 months of age should not be given honey.
Honey can also be given along with lemon drops to relieve dry cough and congestion. A study published in the journal Pharmacy showed that cough syrup containing glycerol along with honey and lemon can help in managing acute cough in both children and adults.
You can grind some ginger with honey and eat it once daily to get relief from congestion.
4. Cool mist humidifier
If you have a humidifier at home, place it in your room at night to get relief from congestion. Humidifier converts water into moisture which slowly fills the air in the room with humidity. This moist air can calm the irritated tissues and help loosen the mucus weighing down your chest so that you can cough it out more easily. You should use a cool-mist humidifier to get relief. Humidifiers must be cleaned regularly to remove bacteria and other pathogens or else it can make the symptoms worse and lead to infection.
5. Essential oils
Essential oils are known to aid treatment of various illnesses including chest congestion and sinus infection. Research has shown that some essential oils also have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. You may use essential oils such as eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, tea tree oil and lavender oil to clear up chest congestion. You can either breathe the vapours of the oil by putting it into an oil dispenser or you can add it in the steaming water. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil into hot water and inhale that steam to moisten the mucous membranes, thus making the phlegm watery and easy to expel via coughing.
Eucalyptus oil contains cineole, which is a mucoactive agent and thus helps in the clearance of mucus.
For more information, read our article on Chest congestion.
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