Whether you're suffering from allergies or have experienced a severe cold, you'd know it can be a real nuisance. These common respiratory illnesses can disrupt daily activities, causing decreased productivity in school or work. They can also cause unpleasant symptoms like coughing, sneezing, irritated eyes, and chest congestion.
Chest congestion occurs when the person experiences a tight or heavy feeling in their chest. Although it may be a common sign of respiratory infections like the common cold or allergies, remember that it could also indicate more severe health conditions. For this reason, you should have an allergy care kit, educate yourself about the symptoms, and learn how to manage congestion.
If you want to enjoy better respiratory health and make the recovery stage more comfortable, this article will explain why chest congestions happen and how to treat them.
Chest congestion usually happens due to the common cold, allergies, and asthma. It occurs when you inhale particles like allergens or viruses irritating the mucus membranes. As a result, your body creates mucus to remove these foreign substances and protect your airways. You can find this substance in various body parts, including your nose, throat, sinuses, lungs, and gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Also known as an Upper Respiratory Infection, the common cold is a widespread illness that usually leads to chest congestion. It affects many people globally, with the United States alone experiencing around a billion cases yearly and the rhinoviruses commonly causing this infection. The following associated symptoms with chest congestion are mainly because of your body’s immune system response to the virus:
While some conditions can naturally disappear, others need urgent attention and medical assistance. After discussing the common cause of chest congestion and its symptoms, this section enumerates severe cases that warrant an immediate appointment with your pulmonologist.
COPD is a condition that affects the lungs and makes inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide difficult. It happens because the lungs’ airways become inflamed and thickened. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are two types of this disease, and smoking is a common culprit of this condition. When you have COPD, you usually need medications, rescue inhalers, and oxygen tanks to help manage the symptoms.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that inflames the air sacs, and it happens because of bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Symptoms include coughing mucus, chest pain, fever, and chills. It’s most dangerous for infants, younger children, and adults over 65 and may require antibiotics.
Like COPD, lung cancer occurs because of long-term smoking or exposure to dangerous substances. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, hoarseness, coughing blood, and frequent lung infections.
Heart disease or failure can cause fluid buildup in the lungs, causing shortness of breath, night coughs, fatigue, weight gain, and swollen legs and ankles. When you experience any of these symptoms, you must seek immediate medical intervention to treat this condition. Otherwise, it could require more expensive treatments, cause complications, or death.
While some cases may need specific medical attention, you could follow general health and treatment suggestions to prevent other specific respiratory issues. After discussing the common causes of chest congestion, here’s how to treat and avoid it.
Drinking water helps thin mucus and makes it easier to expel, reducing congestion. You can also use nasal irrigation devices to help flush out mucus and substances from nasal and sinus passages.
Doctors urge you to quit smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke because the smoke can irritate your respiratory system, which can be harmful in the long run and may even cause death.
If you have allergies, adding air purifiers to your allergy care kit can help remove allergens, preventing allergic reactions and inflamed airways.
Steam can help with respiratory issues by providing moisture and loosening dried mucus. You can use a humidifier or vaporizer. You can also take a hot shower or inhale steam from boiled water.
Vibratory devices called PEP therapy devices help move mucus in the lungs by creating pressure and vibrations and are helpful for those with chronic respiratory conditions.
Decongestants constrict blood vessels to reduce mucus production and inflammation. In contrast, antihistamines block allergic reactions but may cause drowsiness and dryness. Expectorants thin mucus to help your body expel it. On the other hand, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help reduce pain and inflammation.
Nasal sprays are medications that can quickly relieve congestion in your nose. However, you should only use them briefly, typically no longer than two to three days.
Whether it’s a common condition or something more severe, nobody deserves to suffer from chest congestion because it can be painful and uncomfortable. You can address this problem by preparing an allergic care kit, learning about the symptoms and respiratory conditions, and following your doctor’s treatment suggestions.
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