Carefree M.D. Blog

How to Get Rid of Chest Congestion Effectively

Carefree MD

March 11, 2021 | Blog

Chest congestion is the result of built-up mucus in your air passages. It’s an uncomfortable symptom. And if left untreated, it can easily develop complications. This guide can tell you everything you need to know about how to get rid of chest congestion. Keep reading to discover tips for fast and effective chest congestion relief.

Symptoms of Chest Congestion

While chest congestion itself is a symptom of other illnesses, it usually doesn’t appear alone. These accompanying symptoms are very common when you have chest congestion:

  • Hacking cough with clear, green, or dark yellow mucus
  • Chest tightness 
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches and chills
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing

Causes of Chest Congestion

Chest congestion happens when you have inflamed air passages in the lungs. It’s a very common symptom of the common cold or bronchitis

Chest colds usually happen because of viral infections. If you have a chest cold, you may experience other symptoms, such as a runny nose, sore throat, or sinus infection before the virus settles in your lungs. Once there, your lungs can swell and fill with thick mucus. This makes it difficult to breathe.

Chest congestion isn’t a life-threatening condition. You can easily treat it with common home remedies. But it’s worth turning to a doctor, if your chest congestion doesn’t clear up within a few days.

Home Remedies to Get Rid of Chest Congestion

Chest congestion is a very common symptom. These natural home remedies will most likely clear up the mucus in your lungs within a few days.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

When you have a cold, the best thing you can do is rest and drink plenty of liquids. It’s even better if you drink warm fluids. A warming cup of tea or hot water can have wonderful effects. Best of all, it can help reduce the symptoms of chest congestion quickly.

Inhale Steam

Inhaling steam can help loosen the mucus in your air passages. One of the easiest ways to inhale steam is to take a steaming hot shower and breathe deeply. Alternatively, the steam of a humidifier can help a lot too. And a few drops of essential oil in the humidifier can make the steam enjoyable too.

If you can’t take a hot shower and you don’t have a humidifier, simply boil a large pot of water. Stand above it and breathe deeply to get rid of your chest congestion. Just be careful not to burn yourself with the boiling water.

Gargle with Saltwater

Take half a teaspoon of salt and a warm cup of water. Mix together, and gargle. While it isn’t the tastiest home remedy for chest congestion, it’s very effective. Saltwater can get rid of the mucus at the back of your throat. This can help reduce your symptoms.

Swallow Honey

Honey is one of the most popular home remedies for chest congestion. It has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Consume a tablespoon of honey every 3-4 hours to help get rid of chest congestion gradually.
It’s important to note that infants under 12 months shouldn’t consume honey at all.

Eat Helpful Foods and Herbs

Eating specific foods and herbs can help alleviate the symptoms of your cold. Including your chest congestions. Try to eat these to relieve the mucus buildup in your lungs:

  • Lemon
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Spicy food (like chili)
  • Berries
  • Ginseng
  • Guava
  • Echinacea
  • Licorice root
  • Pomegranate
  • Zinc

Use Essential Oils

Essential oils are really helpful in relieving respiratory symptoms. This means that they can help you breathe easier. There are two ways you can use essential oils when you have chest congestion.

You can inhale the essential oils. Sniff them straight from the bottle, or put them in hot water to inhale them with the steam.

Alternatively, you can also apply essential oils topically. Mix 1 or 2 drops of essential oil with 12 drops of coconut oil. Test on a small patch of skin first to see if it causes skin irritation. If your skin is fine, feel free to apply the rest of the concoction to your chest.

Do not eat essential oils. They’re not for consumption. If you ingest them, you can get severe poisoning.

Elevate Your Head

If you’re having trouble sleeping because of your chest congestions, elevate your head a bit. Stacking a few extra pillows under your head will do wonders for your breathing. It also encourages the draining of mucus, helping reduce your symptoms.

 Medical Treatments to Get Rid of Chest Congestion

If these home remedies don’t bring the desired relief from chest congestion, you can turn to medication. These medical cold treatments can help get rid of your chest congestion. Some of these you can find over-the-counter, others require a prescription.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

Taking this supplement is proven to reduce the feeling of chest congestion when you have a cold. If you have chest congestion but no trouble breathing, 600 milligrams (mg) of NAC daily is enough. And if you do have blocked airways, doubling the dose should do the trick.


You can get over-the-counter decongestants that will help with any cold symptoms. These can come in liquid, tablet, or spray form. The two most common ones are oxymetazoline and pseudoephedrine. Ask your pharmacist for a recommendation.

Vapor Rub

Vapor rubs have the same decongestant medication. But instead of ingesting it, you apply it topically. Vapor rub is especially effective for children suffering from chest congestion. 

You can find various brands of vapor rubs at your local drug store or pharmacy. Opt for a brand that contains camphor and menthol. These two ingredients are the most effective for symptom relief.

Prescription Medicine and Nasal Spray

If home medicines and simple over-the-counter medication still don’t solve the problem, turn to a doctor. They can prescribe medicine or nasal spray that effectively targets your chest congestion.

These medicines aren’t available over-the-counter for a reason. You have to talk to a qualified physician to get access to these strong decongestants.

How to Get Rid of Chest Congestion for Children

Most home remedies for chest congestion relief can help children the same way. Resting, drinking fluids, and inhaling steam are universally effective.

If your child is over four years old, they can have lozenges for sore throats. Don’t give lozenges to children under four, however. If your child is younger than four but over a year old, you can give them honey for chest congestion. Infants under a year old should NOT eat honey.

Your local pharmacy or drug store also has useful products for your child. Cough syrup for children is great against chest congestion. You can also find pain relief with ibuprofen or acetaminophen that’s suitable for children. 

Remember to read the labels carefully, and ask your pharmacist when in doubt.

 How to Prevent Chest Congestion

Prevention is always better and cheaper than treatment. Taking these simple steps for your health can help you prevent chest congestion and severe cold symptoms.

  • Avoid allergens: Allergens and irritants such as chemicals, fur, and dust can easily trigger inflammation in your air passages. 
  • Quit smoking: There are a lot of studies on how unhealthy smoking is. To prevent chest congestion in the future, put the cigarettes down for good.
  • Keep a healthy diet and exercise: Keeping your body healthy increases your chance of immunity to the viruses that cause chest congestion.
  • Wash your hands often: washing your hands thoroughly or using hand sanitizer can prevent the transmission of viruses. This can help keep you healthier longer.
  • Address underlying conditions: Talk to a doctor if you have chronic bronchitis or lung conditions. These can often result in chest congestion.

When to Talk to a Doctor

If home remedies and over-the-counter medications don’t get rid of your chest congestion, it’s time to speak to a doctor. After all, leaving these symptoms untreated can leave you at risk of developing severe health conditions. 

Luckily, you don’t even need to leave your home to talk to a doctor. Instead, you can get the treatment you deserve right from the comfort of your living room with Carefree MD.

Carefree MD gives you complete access to a state licensed, board-certified physician. All you need is an internet connection and a mobile or desktop device. And once you sign up, you’ll get unlimited appointments where you can discuss your concerns with a doctor in private for as long as you like. Best of all, this pay-as-you-go, monthly plan has no commitment. 

Need care right now? Sign up for Carefree MD to discuss your symptoms, get treatment, and find relief with telemedicine today!


The Carefree Dental MD blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed doctor or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree MD Card is not insurance and Carefree MD is not an insurance provider.