It is no fun to deal with a cough, and this is all the more true if you also suffer from chest congestion. Chest congestion is caused by excess mucus in your airways and can cause wheezing or chest pain that leaves a feeling of emptying. But we also have good news – chest congestion often responds easily to therapies, including some free medicines available at home. Read on to find out more about DIY and over-the-counter remedies to relieve this congestion.

1. gargling with salt water

Gargling with warm salt water helps to draw excess fluid from the throat and loosen the mucus that has accumulated and irritation  in the throat. It also has a calming effect on your throat, which should naturally relieve some of the discomfort caused by persistent coughing. A 2005 study by Kyoto University found that frequent gargling with water when you are not ill can prevent upper respiratory tract infections – including those that cause coughs and congestion.

Making saltwater is easy. Just stir half a teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water, then stir until the salt has dissolved and gargle for a few seconds. Repeat this a few times a day, as needed.

2. hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

You can help relieve your chest congestion even more if you drink a glass of (non-salted) water while gargling. Maintaining fluid intake can help dilute the mucus in your throat, explains the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Plain old water is sufficient, but staying hydrated with other fluids can be even better. Try sipping tea if you don’t like water. Menthol, for example, can make your mucus thinner and help dissolve it to relieve congestion, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

3. inhale steam or add moisture

Water is not just for drinking; inhaling steam or moisture can also help relieve congestion. Inhaling vapor draws more moisture through the airways, which, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, helps dilute and dissolve mucus.

If it is not possible to spend a few minutes in a steam bath, make your own facial steam by pouring hot water into a mixing bowl, then hold your face over the water, leaving a few inches between to avoid burns. Place a towel over your head to keep it in the steam.

Using a humidifier in your room offers a longer-term solution. A humidifier humidifies the air around the clock, even while you are sleeping, so it can be a good way to deal with traffic jams if you don’t have time to take a steam bath to do it yourself.

4. sipping on soup

There is a reason why your mother always recommended chicken soup for persistent constipation: a steaming plate of soup offers similar advantages to water. Soup – especially the low-sodium version – promotes fluid intake, which can help dilute the mucus that causes constipation. And as you enjoy every sip, you can breathe in more humid air, which further reduces congestion. Certain herbs, such as thyme, can also help relieve coughs, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Therefore, enjoying a generously seasoned soup could offer additional benefits.

5. taking medication for tested relief

While homemade remedies can provide some relief from congestion, sometimes you will need medication to make you feel better. Look for cough medicine that contains expectorants, which help to thin and loosen the mucus in your airways. Delsym® Cough+ Chest Congestion DM contains the mucolytic guaifenesin and a cough suppressant to relieve persistent, intractable coughs. It provides maximum strength* for coughing and chest congestion, so you can concentrate on the day ahead rather than on your chest congestion.

*for each dose


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