What Causes Chest Congestion?

Understanding the role of mucus

Our body’s defense system for the respiratory system is mucus or phlegm.  Mucus plays an integral part in protecting the walls of our respiratory system. They contain immunoglobulins that are meant to fight lung irritants or infections.


When our bodies get an infection in the lungs and we begin to show signs of chest congestion, mucus is produced in large amounts. Coughing up mucus is the immune system trying to clear of invading toxins, bacteria, viruses, or foreign bodies. The mucus expelled contains dead immune cells and the invaded bacteria or virus.

While it is uncomfortable to cough up mucus, it serves a purpose. It also tells you that your body is fighting off an infection.

The underlying causes of chest congestion

What causes chest congestion can be a variable of different things. It may just be attached to cold or flu, or it could be bronchitis or pneumonia. It could be several other conditions, especially if you smoke.  Brown or gray colored mucus is a tell sign for smokers as their body is trying to expel the cigarette toxins.

Chest mucus showing blood is indicative of a more serious infection and should be handled as a medical emergency. Smoking can cause bronchitis, pneumonia, pulmonary edema, heart failure, lung cancer and a host of other health problems.


Believe it or not, the most common cause of chest congestion is a cold. Colds can advance into bronchitis creating the right environment in the respiratory tract system for viruses or bacterial infections to begin.  Allergens and fungi can also cause chest congestion. Cold or flu symptoms can be prevalent with chest congestion symptoms.

The labored breathing is a sign of oxygen being restricted to the lungs and this will make you feel tired. The most common symptoms are chest pain, coughing up mucus, and constricted breathing. You may even hear a ‘crackling’ when you take breaths.

Having a post nasal drip can cause irritation and congestion, sometimes followed by constant urges to blow your nose or clear your throat. This can be from irritants, smoking, colds, flu, dry climates and even dairy products. The cross-exposure can occur with gastroesophageal acid reflux; this swallowing dysfunction returns gastric stomach contents to the upper digestive tract, and into the throat.

Allergies can also be a cause of chest congestion, like hayfever. When allergens become rampant in the system, the body will produce excessive mucus.  Asthma sufferers are particularly susceptible to chest congestion because of constricted airways.

Mucus can take on a different color and produce in high qualities and in different consistencies. This will give you an idea of what is happening with your body, and help your doctor to determine the cause. If your mucus is yellow or a greenish color, this may be a sign of infection.

Other causes of chest congestion are:

  • Common cold
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Flu
  • Airborne allergies
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Croup
  • Heart failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Lung cancer,

What to look for with chest congestion:

  • Coughing
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain
    • Runny nose
    • Labored breathing
    • Wheezing
    • Dizziness
    • Discomfort in the chest
    • Blood in phlegm
    • Crackling noise while breathing

Using Home Remedies for Chest Congestion

Home remedies are a natural way to combat colds, flus, and chest congestion. If the chest condition is not from any serious medical conditions and the problem in not ongoing, the natural treatments can bring relief. The advantages of these remedies are they are effective for people of all ages; they are safe with no side effects and are easily available. If you are pregnant, this might be a better alternative than traditional medicines.

Cough congestion tips:

  • Tackle sinus infections right away to prevent from developing into a deeper health issue.
  • Some cough suppressants may lead to prolonged infections due to causing mucus to build up in the lungs.
  • Drink plenty of warm water to loosen the mucus and help to remove from your body
  • Try practicing the breathing exercises in yoga called Pranayama. This will improve your breathing while increasing your lung capacity.
  • Expectorants are widely available over-the-counter, and often provide quick relief with mucus build up.

Being down with a cold or the flu is miserable. Letting chest congestions symptoms slide will ultimately make it harder to bounce back. Be sure to be proactive in treatment of this problem, as well as in taking preventive measures for the benefits of good health.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *