Remedies for Chest Congestion: What to Do and When to See a Doctor – WebMD

If you’ve ever been diagnosed with the common cold or bronchitis, you’ve likely experienced chest congestion. Chest congestion is the result of inflamed air passages, or bronchi, in the lungs. A chest cold results from the same virus as the common cold and usually presents as a runny nose, sinus infection, or sore throat before settling into your lungs.
When the bronchi in your lungs are exposed to a virus, they swell and fill with a thick fluid called mucus. This excess fluid constricts the airflow, making it difficult to breathe. 
Symptoms of chest congestion include:
The majority of these symptoms often fade in a few days, but a cough can last for weeks as your bronchial tubes heal. If you have a cough that lasts longer than 14 days, you should see your doctor. This symptom could be a sign of another illness that needs medical attention, such as pneumonia.
The common cold and chest congestion are the result of a virus. The only cure for this kind of virus involves resting and waiting for the virus to clear. Antibiotics are only helpful in treating diseases like pneumonia and whooping cough. However, some home remedies and treatments can soothe your aching chest and relieve your symptoms.
Doctors suggest these home remedies for chest congestion:
Symptoms usually start to go away within seven days to two weeks if you don’t have an underlying condition like chronic pulmonary disease. Medicines like decongestants may also loosen mucus and ease other symptoms. 
In some cases, at-home remedies might not do the trick. If you aren’t feeling better after a few days, have a fever that isn’t going away, are wheezing, or can’t seem to shake the infection, make an appointment with your doctor. Chest congestion may indicate a condition more serious than the common cold or bronchitis.
Children will benefit from many of the same home remedies for chest congestion, such as resting, drinking clear fluids, and breathing in cool air from vaporizers or humidifiers. Some chest cold remedies in children should be treated with caution.
Consider these home remedies for children with chest congestion:
The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t recommend over-the-counter cold medications for children younger than four years. You should also avoid giving children aspirin, which can cause a rare but life-threatening condition called Reye’s Syndrome.
American Academy of Family Physicians: “Acute Bronchitis.” 
American Academy of Pediatrics: “Coughs and Colds: Medicines or Home Remedies?”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Chest Cold (Acute Bronchitis).” 
Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Bronchitis.” 
Mayo Clinic: “Common Cold.” 
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