Lung Congestion: What are the Possible Remedies?

December 18, 2020 by ChestMed Pte Ltd.32

Chest or lung congestion is often characterized by a feeling of heaviness or tightness in the chest. Lung congestion is also often caused by respiratory infection. Difficulty of breathing is typically attributed to fluid accumulation in the lungs secondary to excessive production of mucus.

It is recommended that you see a lung doctor if you suspect you have lung congestion so the condition can be treated and lack of oxygen in the body is prevented. Apart from seeking lung congestion treatment, it is reassuring to know there are certain home remedies you can do to help ease the symptoms.

Lung Congestion Home Remedies

The following home remedies can help relieve symptoms of lung congestion faster: 

Gargling with warm salt water

Frequently gargling using warm salt water is considered one of the most conventional remedies for lung congestion. Gargling with warm salt water can also significantly minimise the viscosity of the mucus so it can be expulsed easily. 

This method is also considered effective at soothing throat irritation. Gargling with plain water has also been proven beneficial in helping prevent upper respiratory tract infections in healthy adults.

How to use:

  • Add a teaspoon of salt to a warm glass of water. Stir to dissolve.
  • Gargle using the salt-water solution for a few seconds.
  • Repeat at least two to three times or until the congestion clears.

Inhaling steam

Steam inhalation has been known to help moisten the mucous membranes. It can also help make the phlegm watery, making it very easy to expel through coughing.

How to do:

  • Pour hot water in a huge bowl. Add a few drops of essential oil (i.e., tea tree, thyme, lavender, eucalyptus, chamomile, peppermint, or grapefruit).
  • Put a towel over your head and then lean over the bowl.
  • To avoid any discomfort, ensure that you maintain a good amount of distance between your face and the hot water. 
  • Inhale the vapors deeply.
  • Repeat steam inhalation at least two to three times daily or until the congestion is relieved.

Applying warm compress using onion (onion poultice)

When placed on the chest, heat from the poultice seeps into the skin and breaks up the coagulated mucus. Onions are also believed to have expectorant qualities that can help thin out the mucus secretions.

How to do:

  • Peel and slice two onions thinly. Steam the slices until it becomes tender.
  • Get a clean kitchen towel and pat the steamed onions dry to remove any of the excess moisture.
  • Use a soft cotton cloth to wrap the steamed onions. Gather the ends of the soft cotton cloth and tie them to create a compress.
  • Allow the onion poultice to cool down before placing it on the patient’s chest.
  • Let the warm onion poultice sit on the rest until such time that it completely cools down. This heat therapy has also been known to help relieve cough when applied to the back.
  • Soon as the poultice has cooled down, the onion slices can be reused again. They just need to be steamed for a few minutes.
  • It is also okay to add garlic or ginger to the mix for additional therapeutic effects. Alternatively, a hot water bag or a simple warm compress may be used.

Applying a vapor rub

Generally, vapor rubs contain ingredients that provide soothing and decongestant effects like menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus oil. The mild soothing effect also comforts irritated nasal linings and makes unhindered breathing possible. 

Drinking hot beverages

Hot beverages like ginger tea, green tea, herbal tea, or black coffee are known to help thin out any consolidated mucus and help ease lung congestion.


ChestMed Pte Ltd.


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