Q:

How can I break up chest congestion?

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Quick Answer

Chest congestion can often be cleared up by taking expectorant medications that contain the ingredient guaifenesin, according to WebMD. The medications work by thinning out the congested phlegm. WebMD adds that it is important for individuals to consult with a physician for coughs that last more than four weeks.

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Chest congestion that develops following colds or flu is referred to as acute bronchitis and can often be treated by drinking excess fluids and introducing moisture into the air with humidifiers or steam from the shower, according to MedlinePlus. In many cases, acute bronchitis resolves on its own, but the condition can cause bacterial infections and require antibiotic treatment in certain individuals.

Mucus-producing coughs are referred to as productive or wet coughs and can last between one and three weeks, according to Healthline. Coughing is a common symptom of colds and flu and tends to be the symptom that lasts the longest. It is important for individuals to seek medical attention if coughing is accompanied by thick mucus that is green to yellow in color or if coughing becomes worse when lying down. Individuals with heart conditions and those with coughs that are accompanied by fever or night sweats should also consult with a physician.

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