Congestion in lungs needs an urgent medical attention even if it is a minor discomfort or more distressing. When excessive fluid and mucus gets accumulated in the lungs we call it as lung congestion. Many people also refer to it as chest congestion. In most cases lung congestion indicates serious heart or lung disease and therefore it needs quick medical treatment.
Breathing difficulty is the major source of distress in patients suffering from lung congestion. Cough, tightness in chest or pain in chest, rapid heart rate, sweating are some other important symptoms that help the doctor to diagnose the condition.
What Causes Lung Congestion?
Congestion in lungs due to lung diseases:
- Bronchitis: this is the most common cause of congestion and abnormal collection of fluid and mucus in lungs. Bronchial tubes are the air passage through which the air passes to and fro. Irritation and inflammation of bronchial tube lining is called bronchitis. It can result from various reasons. Virus and bacteria are the main organisms that are responsible for bronchitis. Chemicals and pollution, cigarette smoking are other reasons for bronchitis.
- Pneumonia: It is another most common lower respiratory tract infection after bronchitis. Pneumonia is particularly caused by Streptococcus bacteria in western countries. Other pathogens such as viruses and fungi can also cause pneumonia. In pneumonia, the lung becomes congested with fluid, mucus and pus cells. High fever, weakness, difficulty in breathing, chest pain and sometimes spiting of blood are some of its symptoms.
- Pulmonary arterial hypertension: elevated pressure in pulmonary arteries can develop with no known reasons or it can be precipitated due to other chronic lung disease such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
Congestion in lungs due to heart ailment:
- Congestive heart failure: when the heart muscles are damaged and they are not able to pump the blood, there is leakage of fluid from the tiny capillaries of the lungs into the air sacs (alveoli). Gradually the lung gets filled with fluid. It is the primary sign of heart failure.
- Congenital mitral valve disease can also give rise to lung congestion.
- Chemicals and poisonous gases when inhaled they can cause harm to the tiny air spaces in the lungs and cause breathing difficulty and congestion in the lungs.
Symptoms Of Chest Congestion
Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of lung congestion.
- Cough with breathing difficulty is the chief symptom of lung congestion. The cough can be dry or it can be productive, meaning mucus comes out with every bout of cough. Sometimes there is trace of blood in mucus.
- Chest pain is also present in most of the cases. Patient may complain of pain in chest when he breathes or coughs. Wheezing and abnormal sound can be heard with the help of stethoscope.
- Fever, headache, rapid pulse rate, sweating, are other associated symptoms of lung congestion. The skin and mucus membrane may become blue, especially the lips and nails.
Home Remedies For Lung Congestion
As there are various reasons for lung congestion, some are not so serious while some are life threatening, the treatment will depend on its severity.
- If lung congestion is mild and is caused by reasons such as bronchitis, home remedies can assist in removing the accumulated mucus from the lungs. Inhaling steam is one of the home remedy which is useful for this condition. A pinch of turmeric powder mixed in one teaspoon of honey is also effective in treating the underlying cause which is responsible for lung congestion. Turmeric is a natural antibacterial agent. In this way it helps to kill the pathogen which is responsible for bronchitis.
- Avoid foods that increase mucus production. Avoid dairy products, sugar, white flour, bread made from white flour.
- Certain fruits and vegetables are found beneficial such as oranges, pineapple, grapefruits, broccoli, onions, garlic, asparagus etc.
- Avoid eating cold food. Eat warm food as it will liquefy the collected mucus and help its easy elimination.
- Stop smoking if you are doing so.
The above said natural remedies are only useful when lung congestion is due to minor ailment. If the cause for lung congestion is serious and severe more rigorous medical approach is necessary as this may be life saving for the patient. Sometimes the patient may need urgent hospitalization as in congestive cardiac failure or pneumonia etc.