Chest congestion is the layman’s term for a build-up of mucus and fluids in the lungs. You may notice your chest feels stiff or heavy or you may have a mucus-producing cough. Chest congestion is often the result of another ailment and will go away on its own once the original condition runs its course. However, you do not have to suffer for days or weeks of waiting or take over-the-counter or prescription medication. Take control and use the best home remedies for chest congestion to ease your breathing, reduce your urge to cough and relieve painful pressure.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Is Chest Congestion?

2. When Should I Call a Doctor? 

3. What Are the Causes? 

How We Reviewed

We invested a lot of time and effort into bringing you the top 10 list of the best home remedies for chest congestion. We use these remedies ourselves when we are sick and people we talked to who have also used them found them to be effective. We also read research studies to confirm these home remedies were based on scientific evidence and not just a placebo effect. The best home remedies for chest congestion are affordable and simple enough for you to use. 

What Home Remedies for Chest Congestion That We Reviewed

  • Drink Plenty Of Liquids
  • Steam
  • Salt Water
  • Honey
  • Use a Humidifier
  • Essential Oils
  • Keep Your Head Elevated
  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
  • Vapor Rub
  • Herbal Treatments

Drink Plenty of Liquids

man drinking water

Features

Hydration is a key part of your health whether you are sick or not. A 2008 study revealed drinking hot beverages provides “immediate and sustained relief” for the accompanying symptoms of congestion including sneezing, nagging cough, sore throat and chills. Drink warm water, herbal teas, decaffeinated black or green tea or nutritious homemade broths. Your mom’s chicken noodle soup or room temperature apple juice can also make you feel better.

Pros

  • Warm liquids soothe a painful, scratchy throat
  • Liquids thin thick mucus making it easier for the body to expel
  • Reduces the dehydrating effects of chest congestion
  • Makes you feel better, faster

Cons

  • Some people may be frustrated by frequent urination while they are sick
  • Low blood pressure in rare circumstances caused by hyponatremia, or excessively diluted sodium in the blood

Steam

shower area

Features

This is one of the classic home remedies for chest congestion. Turn your shower into a sauna by running the water until the bathroom steams up and then closing the shower door. Point the showerhead away from you so you do not scald your skin and drink a glass of cold water afterwards to cool you down and hydrate you. If you find the shower method to not be targeted enough, fill a large bowl with hot water, place a hand towel over your head to trap the steam around your face and lean over the bowl.

Pros

  • Helps you sweat out toxins and other impurities
  • Relaxes and de-stresses you which is inducive to recovering from illnesses causing your chest congestion
  • Improves circulation which is crucial to healing

Cons

  • Circulation is diverted away from your vital organs
  • Overheating can occur
  • Your skin can become dry

Use a Humidifier

humidifier

Features

If you live in the Southeast, it is probably too hot to use a sauna or shower to clear up congestion symptoms. If this is the case, pick out a cool mist humidifier from your local drug store if you do not have one already. Keep it running near your bed at night. Just make sure you keep your bedroom windows and doors closed to prevent any of the vapor from escaping and use a hygrometer to make sure there is not excessive humidity in your room. The ideal humidity level is between 30 and 50%. The most common types of vaporizers are central humidifiers, evaporators, impeller humidifiers, steam vaporizers and ultrasonic humidifiers.

Pros

  • Humidifier therapy can relieve dry cough
  • Relieves painful sinus congestion in the chest and headache
  • Relieves nose irritation
  • Prevents bloody noses which can drip down and irritate your throat

Cons

  • If your unit expels too much moisture, condensation on the walls could create mold which can spread and grow throughout the home
  • Small children can burn themselves with steam humidifiers
  • May irritate individuals with asthma

Essential Oils

Essential Oils

Features

Essential oils have been extracted and used for over 2,000 years. Diffuse essential oils such as lemon grass, cinnamon bark and thyme to inhibit the growth of bacteria that commonly causes respiratory infections and loosen the mucus in your chest. If you do not have a diffuser, you can add a couple drops to a hot bath or bowl of hot water to release the aromatherapy into the air. If the essential oil is not diluted and you want to apply it topically, use a carrier oil such as jojoba, coconut or avocado in a 1:6 or 1:12 ratio of essential oil to carrier oil. Massage the mixture onto your chest and repeat as needed throughout the day.

Pros

  • Some essential oils such as peppermint oil and spearmint oil contain menthol which is a natural decongestant
  • Antibacterial properties
  • Antiviral properties

Cons

  • Pure essential oil may cause skin irritation
  • May cause an allergic reaction
  • Can be painful if it gets in your eyes

Keep Your Head Elevated

man laying with elevated head

Features

 Some people with chest congestion find the excessive mucus in their chests is disrupting their sleep. Use an extra pillow or two to gently elevate your head above your heart.

Pros

  • Promotes mucus drainage
  • Reduces coughing
  • Eases discomfort in the chest
  • Helps you get a restful night’s sleep

Cons

  • May hurt your back if you use too many pillows
  • May hurt your neck if you use the wrong pillow for your unique needs

N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

Features

N-acetylcysteine, commonly known as NAC, is a supplement used to thin the mucus in your airways and reduce the severity and frequency of a cough. Over a dozen studies show 600 milligrams of NAC each day improves chronic bronchitis symptoms if no obstruction is present and 1,200 mg daily of NAC assists those with airway obstructions.

Pros

  • Helps you sleep through the night
  • Decreases your body’s inflammatory response to the flu
  • Reduces the ability of the flu virus to replicate its cells
  • Reduces both pain and inflammation in your chest and throat
  • Prevents and treats Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) by replenishing glutathione in the lungs which decreases oxidative and tissue damage
  • Treats chronic bronchitis by reducing radicals in the bronchial tubes

Cons

  • If inhaled, may cause drowsiness
  • May irritate your digestive tract if taken orally on an empty stomach
  • Some people do not like the smell

Vapor Rub

Features

Vapor rub is one of the great home remedies for chest congestion. Studies prove vapor rub is more effective for congestion and cough relief than petrolatum ointment or no medication. The combined menthol and camphor of a vapor rub is powerful for symptom relief. Vapor rubs which include both menthol and camphor include Vicks VapoRub, Mentholatum Vaporizing Rub and J.R. Watkins Natural Menthol Camphor Ointment. Rub onto your chest nightly until your symptoms disappear. Follow the instructions on the packaging.

Pros

  • Easy to administer
  • Effective
  • Promotes healing
  • Relieves symptoms quickly including cough, congestion, runny nose and sneezing, aches and pains and sore throat
  • Helps you sleep through the night          

Cons

  • Very strong scent which is unappealing to some
  • Camphor may irritate your eyes or nose if you scratch or rub them before washing your hands

Herbal Treatments

Features

You can’t have a list of the best home remedies for chest congestion without mentioning herbal treatments. Herbs have been used as medicine for around 60,000 years. Some of the best herbs for the treatment of chest congestion symptoms are thyme, parsley and bay leaf. However, there are dozens more which treat different symptoms with varying levels of success.

Pros

  • Natural decongestant
  • Natural anti-inflammatory
  • Thins mucus
  • Relieves pain
  • Safe to eat or drink
  • High in antioxidants

Cons

  •  May cause stomach upset if taken without food
  • May cause headache or dizziness in massive quantities

The Best Home Remedies for Chest Congestion – The Verdict


Chest congestion is commonly nothing more than an irritating tightness under and around your breastbone. It is sometimes the symptom of a serious condition, so contact your general health practitioner if you experience serious side effects such as an extended severe fever, confusion or disorientation or prolonged cough or cold symptoms. The best home remedies for chest congestion are the ones you will follow.

The absolute best home remedy for chest congestion is drinking plenty of clear fluids like juice and water. Chest congestion can quickly dehydrate you which makes it harder for your body to heal itself. Stay hydrated and ensure your body is as strong as possible to fight off whatever infection or environmental toxin is causing your symptoms. You can also stay hydrated by eating clear broths, ramen noodle soup and chicken noodle soup. While honey is great for relieving coughs and warm liquids are great for soothing sore throats, do not make yourself a hot toddy. Both the alcohol in the whiskey and caffeine in the tea will dehydrate you which is counterproductive.

If you have trouble sleeping at night, add an extra pillow to elevate your head over your heart to relieve congestion pain and promote drainage. Run warm or cool humidifiers near your bed at night to ease throat and nose pain, help you breathe and prevent you from coughing. Do not let your children touch steam vaporizers as they can be burned. If you have kids in the house, go with a cool ultrasonic humidifier which produces mist through ultrasonic vibration. Massage a vapor rub containing menthol and camphor or a diluted essential oil on your chest to open your nasal and throat passages, helping you breathe, reducing your urge to cough and fighting the bacteria or virus making you sick. Be cautious of getting camphor near your eyes or nose as it can irritate these sensitive areas.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This