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Cough and Congestion

Cough and Congestion

Having a cough and congestion can be a hassle - it can disrupt your daily life and prevent you from a good nights sleep. Read on to learn more about cough and congestion and what you can do to get relief.
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Chest Congestion

Chest congestion is a common symptom of a cold or upper respiratory infection such as bronchitis. As a defense to invading bacteria or viruses your body produces excess mucus membranes. These membranes fill the lungs and cause congestion and a productive cough, which means you are coughing up phlegm.

Chest congestion can also occur when you have excess nasal congestion. The mucus in your nose is so blocked up that it has nowhere else to go, so it drips down the back of the throat and into the lungs. This is called postnasal drip and it can lead to a sore throat.

Symptoms of Chest Congestion

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, you may have chest congestion:

  • A sore throat
  • A productive cough, meaning you are coughing up mucus and phlegm
  • Wheezing while breathing
  • A runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Change in voice (hyponasal speech)
  • Loss of smell
  • Loss of taste
  • Mild headache and body ache
  • Low fever
  • An upper respiratory infection or cold

How longs does chest congestion last?

Depending on the cause of your cough and congestion your recovery timewill vary. Chest congestion as a result of a common cold will usually clear up with lots of fluids and rest. However, if you have an upper respiratory infection you may need further treatment.

If a bacterial infection is the cause of your cough and congestion your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. You should start to feel relief within 3 days.

It is important to remember that even after the infection is cleared, your body still has to clear out the mucus that is leftover. This means a productive cough can linger for days and in some cases weeks even after your body is infection free.

Cough and Congestion Relief

There are many things you can do at home to reduce your symptoms and get some relief from your chest congestion. Here is a list of at home treatments to try:

  • Take a hot shower: breathe in steam from hot water. It will loosen thick mucus membranes, and make it easier to cough them up.

  • Use a humidifier: humidifiers moisten the air you breath. This moisture thins thick mucus allowing you to expel it easier. Try adding eucalyptus oil to the humidifier to get even more relief. This essential oil has been shown to aid congestion by fighting off harmful bacteria.

  • Keep Hydrated: drinking fluids thins mucus from the inside out. When your body is dehydrated your mucus becomes thick and sticky. This creates an excess of phlegm and makes you prone to buildups because it is much harder to break up the mucus membranes.

  • Up your lemon, ginger, garlic, and spice intake: these ingredients have been linked to respiratory health. While more research is needed, ingestion is not harmful, and is very helpful to some, so it is worth a try. Try drinking lemon ginger tea and adding extra garlic to your food.

Think you may be experiencing symptoms of chest congestion and coughing? Book an appointment with a PlushCare physician and get a prescription treatment today.

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Leah McCabe

Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

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