Search Our

Provider Directory

Clinical Trials

Enrolling Now


Overview of Congestion

Congestion can be classified as nasal congestion or chest congestion, depending on the area that is affected. It is sometimes accompanied with the lungs feeling heavy, pain when breathing, and buildup of fluids. People may define congestion in a variety of ways. While congestion is usually not a very serious condition, it can definitely be a burden. Symptoms may include coughing, a runny nose, and trouble breathing. Your physician may recommend a variety of tests to ensure an accurate diagnosis. Treatment may be done through medications or a few at-home exercises that will help loosen up mucus.

Symptoms of Congestion

Nasal congestion can also be described as a stuffy nose and causes a plugged feeling. It can also include a runny nose in some cases. While these symptoms seem fairly mild, it may be serious for children and infants who have a hard time sleeping and eating as a result.

Chest congestion is simply mucus build-up in the lungs. When you are sick, your body produces excess mucus in an effort to get the germs away from the body. In addition to excess mucus, your body might respond to congestion with a cough. When there is excess mucus found in the body, the natural response is to cough as it usually helps remove germs from the airways.

Causes of Congestion

Nasal congestion can be the result of anything that has irritated the nasal tissues. This can be from infections or allergies. Sometimes these can also be caused by other irritants in the area.

Mucus buildup in the lungs is typically the result of other upper respiratory tract infections, airborne particles, or the common cold. When these infections are found in the lungs, your body produces excess mucus as a result. Most patients with asthma will also say that chest congestion is one of the side effects that bother them the most. If you are able to control your asthma, then there is a good chance that this symptom will disappear too.

Diagnosis of Congestion

To begin diagnosis, your physician will ask you a variety of questions to better understand your congestion. After these questions, your physician may also recommend a variety of tests to confirm the diagnosis or to ensure there are no other causes of this sickness. Your physician may recommend: a throat culture, flu test, chest x-ray, or allergy tests.

When to See a Doctor for Congestion

You will need to see a doctor if your symptoms become serious. Most of the time, congestion is serious when you begin to see the following symptoms: black mucus, coughing up blood, trouble breathing, fever higher than 100 degrees, you are unable to sleep, wheezing, and no relief of symptoms within ten days.

Treatments of Congestion

Your physician may recommend a variety of treatments for your congestion. Depending on the results from your tests is how you will initially be treated. If there are no real causes of the congestion, then your physician may begin by recommending a variety of medications that will help in loosening up the congestion. Your physician may also recommend a vapor chest rub, which will help open the nasal passages. This can be extremely helpful before bedtime. There are also many at-home remedies that may be recommended.

At Home Remedies for Congestion

There are a few home remedies for congestion. The best advice for congestion is to keep the airways moist. Most people believe that the airways need to be dry, but that is not true.

Staying hydrated will help thin the mucus, which will help you breathe better. You will want to stay away from drinks that will lead to dehydration. Another good option is decaf tea, as the warm drink may be very soothing. Another home remedy would be to include honey and lemon into a glass of warm water. This will help to reduce coughing and can be extremely beneficial at night if you are not able to sleep.

If you are having trouble coughing, specifically when you are laying down, then you may want to prop your head up on multiple pillows in an effort to raise your head. Some people say that this helps reduce the amount of coughing that is done at night.

Steam can also help moisturize the airways and loosen the mucus. You can do this by using a humidifier or taking a hot shower. If you do not want to stay in a hot shower, it also helps if you can run hot water in the sink and cover your head and faucet with a towel. This will allow you to breathe in the steam too. This is also a helpful method because many people do not take time to rest when they are sick, so this makes people take a minute from their day to relax. This may not work well for people with asthma, so be sure to ask your physician first.

There are also many medications that may help with congestion. You will want to speak with your physician to see which one will help your symptoms.

In some cases, a sinus relief massage may be helpful. This can be done by placing your index fingers on either side of the nose and applying moderate pressure for a few moments at a time. This massage will help to bring comfort to the sinuses.

Another option is to irrigate the sinus. As previously mentioned, it is essential to keep the nasal passages moist. Irrigating the sinuses with salt water can help to clear out any irritants that may be involved. This will also help to relieve any inflammation and will aid in draining out the excess mucus.


If you believe that your congestion has been caused by an allergic reaction, you will want to avoid that allergen as much as possible. If you are a smoker, then it is best to stop smoking. Drinking plenty of water will also help to thin the nasal secretions.