Chest congestion is a common symptom for those suffering from respiratory illnesses. Chest congestion is described as a tight feeling in your chest, felt deep beneath the breastbone. Usually, when people feel this tightness, it is because there is a build-up of fluids and mucus in the lungs. Because of this, your chest can feel stiff and heavy and deep breaths can be painful. A cough may accompany the congestion that produces mucus along with breathing difficulties and a shortness of breath. Sometimes this is caused by something little, other times it is a lot more serious. Here are five common causes of a congested chest.
The common cold is the most common source of chest congestion. Colds are often accompanied by a runny or congested nose, sore throat, and a large amount of mucus in the lungs. By drinking plenty of water and resting up, the common cold will typically go away in 7-10 days, however, they can last longer. Thankfully, colds go away and symptoms improve on their own with a little bit of time. If your symptoms worsen over time and do not resolve, it is important that you call your primary care physician.
Pneumonia is a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection in the lungs. People diagnosed with pneumonia typically had flu-like symptoms in the beginning. Those with pneumonia report they had a shortness of breath, tight, congested chest, fever, yellow or green mucus, and the chills. For the majority of people, this can be treated at home and is not usually serious. For those older in age, infants, and those with chronic health conditions, pneumonia can be life-threatening. It is important to speak with your doctor if you think you may have pneumonia.
Chest congestion can be triggered by allergies. Pollen, pet dander and dust can also cause sneezing, shortness of breath, and watery, itchy eyes. Relief is easily achieved with over-the-counter meds like antihistamines and decongestants.
Bronchitis causes inflammation of the mucous membrane in the bronchial tubes (this is where air gets from the mouth/nose to the lungs). People can suffer from acute bronchitis or chronic bronchitis. The former is caused by a virus and typically will pass in a couple of weeks. The latter, however, is typically caused by long-term smoking and is irreversible, though treatments can help regulate symptoms.
Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure (CHF) happens when the heart is not able to pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body. Because of this, blood and other fluids get backed up in the lungs, feet, ankles, and legs. Those that have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes are more likely to experience CHF. CHF is most common among those that are overweight, male, over the age of 65, and people that have suffered from a heart attack.
It is always better to err on the side of caution and call your doctor today if you’re concerned you may be suffering from any of these ailments. They will be able to help determine what care may need to take place.