Chest congestion is a common respiratory symptom which could be an indication of the common cold or the flu. It may be accompanied by upper respiratory tract congestion and nasal congestion.
When the body triggers an immune response against pathogenic bacteria or viruses, it can lead to chest congestion. The common cold is the most frequent cause of chest congestion, however, other factors can cause mucus buildup, including:
The release of harmful odors or chemicals in the atmosphere can lead to chest congestion and breathing problems.
Individuals who work in environments where there is a high risk of inhaling toxins can experience inflammation of the lungs and airways.
It is caused by inflammation of the bronchial lining.
Cigarette smoke can damage the cilia (hair-like projections which move debris and microbes up and out of the airways) in the lungs, leading to excessive production of mucus.
The condition occurs when fluid collects in air sacs of the lungs. Pulmonary edema is caused by diseases including cardiovascular conditions and lung problems.
It is an infection of the main airways of the lungs. Bronchitis triggers immune cells to fight inflammation, that can cause chest congestion.
This bacterial infection can cause the lungs to fill with fluid.
When you are exposed to an allergen (dust mites, pollen, mold, animal dander, insect venoms, medications, and some foods), it triggers an immune reaction which affects the respiratory system.
It is a genetic disorder which leads to mucus in the lungs.
It is a lung disease caused by dust particles.
Swelling of the air passages can often lead to chest congestion.
The flu can cause numerous symptoms, including fever (high temperature), congestion, and cough.
The primary symptom of chest congestion is the feeling of tightness in the chest which can come with wheezing or pain. Other symptoms are:
- labored breathing (a respiration that is characterized by an increased effort to breathe);
- a feeling like you need to cough;
- general fatigue;
- coughing up phlegm from the lungs;
- difficulty breathing;
- a gurgling sound emanating from lungs after a deep breath;
- difficulty swallowing.
When to Call the Doctor
You should see a doctor if:
- your chest cold is keeping you up at night;
- you are coughing up blood;
- you are having trouble breathing;
- you develop a fever higher than 100 degrees F.
The condition can be diagnosed by x-ray images of the chest and listening to the breathing sounds.
To break up or dissolve mucus and soothe your congestion, there are a few remedies that you can try at home, such as:
- stay hydrated with hot tea or water since liquids can help clear out mucus in the nose and chest;
- use a humidifier when resting or sleeping;
- gargling with a mixture of warm water and salt can ease symptoms;
- place a hot towel or a hot pack on your chest and throat;
- drink honey and lemon combined with warm water;
- when sleeping or resting, keep your head elevated above your torso;
- eat the following foods – pomegranate, guava, and berries;
- take a hot shower and breathe in the warm steam.
If the above remedies do not work, your doctor may prescribe the following medications:
- corticosteroids – they are used for more severe chronic conditions;
- antibiotics – they are used to treat bacterial infections;
- expectorants – they help with mucus expulsion;
- cough suppressants – they reduce coughing for short periods.
Here Is A Comparison Between Two OTC Medicines Useful For Chest Congestion:
The active ingredient In Mucinex is guaifenesin, an expectorant that is derived from a tree bark extract called guaiacum.
It has two active ingredients:
- dextromethorphan – a drug that is part of a group of medications called cough suppressants (antitussives);
- guaifenesin – a drug that is part of a class of drugs called expectorants.
Mucinex helps reduce chest congestions caused by infections, colds, or allergies.
Robitussin DM is used to temporarily relieve a cough from a cold or minor throat irritation.
Mucinex works by thinning the mucus. This makes it easier to get the congestion out of the throat, lungs, and nose.
The dextromethorphan in Robitussin DM suppresses your cough reflex by acting on the cough center in the CNS (central nervous system), while guaifenesin is thinning your mucus.
The most common adverse events associated with Mucinex include:
- slow heart rate;
- blurred vision;
- stomach ache;
- a runny nose;
The most common adverse events associated with Robitussin DM include:
- troubled breathing;
- shakey movements;
- skin rash;
- slurred speech;
- stomach pain;
- the typical dosage for children two to 6 years old is 50 to 100 milligrams every 4 hours;
- the typical dosage for children six to 12 years old is 100 to 200 milligrams every 4 hours;
- the typical dosage for adults is 200 to 400 milligrams every 4 hours.
Important note – children younger than 2-years-old should not take the medicine.
- the typical dosage for children six to 12 years old is 1 teaspoon every 4 hours;
- the typical dosage for adults and children older than 12 years is 2 teaspoons every 4 hours.
Important note – do not give Robitussin DM to children less than 6 years old. Do not take more than 6 doses in 24 hours.
Warnings & Precautions
You should not take Mucinex if you are taking:
- medications to treat Parkinson’s disease;
- certain antidepressants;
- monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
Tell your doctor before you use Robitussin DM if you have or have had any of the following medical conditions:
- smoker’s cough;
Mucinex may interact in a negative way with the following medications:
- gabapentin (a medicine to treat epilepsy);
- Benadryl (diphenhydramine);
- sertraline (an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class);
- Delsym (dextromethorphan);
- Prozac (fluoxetine);
Robitussin DM may interact in a negative way with the following medications:
Avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking Mucinex or Robitussin DM as the intake of alcohol can worsen some of their side effects.
Is It Safe During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding?
It is not known whether Mucinex or Robitussin DM could harm a nursing baby. Additionally, it is not known whether Mucinex or Robitussin will pose harm to an unborn baby.
Bottom Line – Mucinex vs Robitussin
Robitussin helps your symptoms, however, Mucinex helps the underlying problem by loosening and thinning the mucus in your lungs. This will cause a cough to help blow the mucus out, and, ultimately, to clear your symptoms completely.