How to Get Rid of Chest Congestion Fast

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How to Get Rid of Chest Congestion Fast

Jillian Stenzel

Written by Jillian Stenzel

Jillian Stenzel

Jillian Stenzel

A Nevada-bred traveler & food nerd who dances & eats spinach, sometimes simultaneously. She writes from wherever her curiosity demands, and is passionate about spreading the wisdom of better health.

March 31, 2021 / Read Time 4 minutes

What is Chest Congestion?

Chest congestion can feel like being suffocated. If you’re coughing up mucus or having trouble breathing, this can be due to a viral infection in the upper respiratory tract. 

For viral infections, “antibiotics are NOT recommended and will not help you get better,” according to information from the CDC. 

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How Do I Get Rid Of Chest Congestion?

If you have been seeking chest congestion relief, some therapeutic chest congestion home remedies, or have even been wondering how to get rid of phlegm, we’ve compiled some helpful tips to aid you.

What Are Some Common Clinical And Home Treatments For Chest Congestion?

Here are some of the most common treatments and remedies for chest congestion. If symptoms associated with your chest congestion persist or worsen, make an appointment to see a physician. 

Home Treatments

1. Steam Treatment 

Warmth and moisture work together to loosen up congestion in the chest. Hovering your face over a steaming pot of water will work to break up the mucus quickly. If that’s not fast enough, try letting your shower steam up the bathroom before you hop in. Make sure to leave the fan off when you shower to not break up any steam.

2. Eucalyptus Oil or Vapor Rub

An over-the-counter vapor rub such as Vicks can provide immediate relief when massaged onto your chest. Eucalyptus oil, one of Vicks’ active ingredients, can be pretty beneficial. 

Paired with hot water, eucalyptus oil can double your phlegm fighting force. Not only is it antiviral (most chest coughs are viral infections), but it also relieves coughs and loosens up mucus.

Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to a tablespoon or two of a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil, and massage it onto your chest for a DIY vapor rub. Alternatively, putting a few drops into a steaming pot of water can allow you to inhale its congestion-combative properties for quick relief in the air passages.

For relief throughout the night, sleep next to a humidifier with eucalyptus oil. Add 4-5 drops into the reservoir of the humidifier just before going to bed. Make sure to have the humidifier close by, and keep the bedroom door closed to trap in the moisture.

3. Hot Lemon Water

Staying hydrated is critical if you’re congested, as fluids help to keep mucus thin. In fact, some doctors say that simply drinking water is the best way to get rid of phlegm. By heating your water and adding lemon, the heat will break up congestion quickly, while the high vitamin C content of the lemon will help your body fight off infection.

The juice of roughly one large lemon provides you with 31% of your daily recommended value of vitamin C. Try having a glass of hot lemon water with the juice of one lemon three times a day.

If you cannot drink lemon water, try squeezing lemon over steamed broccoli, another rich source of vitamin C. Eating the right foods will supercharge the immune system and help your body fight off persistent coughs.

Over-the-Counter Medication

There are two basic types of over-the-counter cough medicines that you may have hiding out in your medicine cabinet: suppressants and expectorants. While expectorants are best suited for dealing with mucus, suppressants may help you sleep.


Suppressants suppress your cough reflex so you can get some rest. They do not help reduce congestion or thin mucus. They are suitable for relief at night when a cough is keeping you up. 

A common suppressant is dextromethorphan, which you can find in over-the-counter medications containing the label “DM." These suppressants are “used to temporarily relieve cough caused by the common cold, the flu, or other conditions.” Dextromethorphan can provide quick relief for minor conditions that do not need prescription medication.

Some of the common medications used to suppress coughs and thin mucus include:

  • Coricidin

  • Delsym

  • Dimetapp

  • Mucinex

  • Robitussin

  • Sucrets

  • Vicks

These medications provide quick relief for symptoms but should not be used habitually. 


Expectorants work “by thinning the mucus or phlegm in the lungs.” They speed up the mucus clearing process and allow you to get rid of the uncomfortable congestion. Guaifenesin is in brand name medications such as Mucinex or Robitussin Chest Congestion.

If you have a fever, intense shortness of breath, wheezing when you breathe, or if your cough lasts for more than three weeks, schedule an online dr visit. You may have a chronic infection and need to be treated with prescription anti-inflammatory medication to treat your airways’ swelling.

  1. 1

    Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  2. 2

    See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  3. 3

    Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

Where Can I Seek Treatment For Chest Congestion Online?

At PlushCare, doctors are available around the clock to treat a chest cough or respiratory tract infection. Schedule an appointment with a board-certified PlushCare physician online or by phone. 

During your online appointment, you will discuss your symptoms and medical history, and the doctor will give you an official diagnosis and treatment plan. Our licensed virtual doctors can also write a prescription when necessary. Take control of your health today, all from the convenience and comfort of your home.

Read More About Chest Congestion Relief


PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

  • Mayo Clinic Health System. 7 ways to combat coughs and colds. Accessed on March 10, 2021 at 

  • Medlineplus. Dextromethorphan: Medlineplus drug information. Retrieved March 16, 2021, from

  • Aleksic Sabo, V., & Knezevic, P. (2019). Antimicrobial activity of Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehn. plant extracts and essential oils: A review. Industrial crops and products, 132, 413–429. Accessed on March 10, 2021 at 

  • Quantitation of vitamin C content in herbal juice using direct titration. Accessed on March 10, 2021 at 

  • The influence of processing and preservation on the retention of health-promoting compounds in broccoli. Accessed on March 10, 2021 at

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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