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With a host of products available on the market to fight congestion, you simply have to step into a pharmacy or walk down the aisle of your supermarket to know that congestion is a big issue. Not just an issue in terms of its rate of incidence, but an issue in terms of as soon as one experiences signs of congestion, it’s an immediate race to find the best method of treatment! After all, who wants to walk around with a stuffed-up nose, plugged ears and a tight chest that inhibits breathing?
Our body naturally produces mucus to line our organs, such as the lungs and sinuses. This allows the passage of materials – such as oxygen in the lungs – as well as inhibits the entry of dirt, particles, and debris, which get caught in the mucus and sent to be eliminated. Congestion occurs however, when there is a buildup of mucus in the sinuses, nasal passages and lungs, or when the mucus thickens, making it hard for things, such as oxygen molecules to pass through.
The thickened mucus combined with inflammation is at the root of congestion. The mucus thickens due to an increase in histamines, which come with a viral or bacterial infection as a part of the body’s natural immune response. Likewise, inflammation is a natural response to viruses as the body sees the virus as an invader and the organs become inflamed in the fight against the foreign bodies.
Aside from the fact that congestion is irritating and annoying to have to deal with, there are several more serious reasons to treat your congestion. One of the issues is that congestion is often a part of the early stages of a virus – such as a cold – and viruses can progress and lead to infection if left unattended. The body is creating the issue of congestion as a warning sigh of something happening in the body, and as an indicator of the need to address a potentially bigger problem. It is also possible that your congestion is a symptom of allergies or a sinus related problem. Failure to assess for allergies or a sinus issue could lead to you developing a sinus infection, and allergies can worsen over time. In addition, failure to clear congested airways could lead to difficulty breathing, and send you to hospital due to blocked airways.
If you treat your allergies you can clear up your symptoms, feel better, and enjoy feeling good when your body is functioning properly.
One of the top ways to decongest naturally at home is to breathe in hot liquid or drink hot, decongestant herbal teas. There are several natural herbs and essential oils, which help fight congestion due to their natural medicinal properties.
One of these is eucalyptus oil, along with peppermint oil and thyme leaves. To make a decongestant steam, boil some water, and pour into a bowl, adding in dried thyme leaves and 4-6 drops of both eucalyptus and peppermint oils. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or some cheesecloth, and breathe in the steam for 5-7 minutes. Repeat the breathing 2-3 times, or until the steam is gone. You should notice the action of steam, combined with the oils, promotes decongestion.
You can also use common pantry ingredients to make a compress. Ginger and garlic work particularly well for this due to the fieriness of ginger and the anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties of garlic. Boil a pot of water on the stove, adding in 2-3 cloves of garlic, or a thumb-sized piece of ginger. Once boiling, cover and reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes and then remove from the heat and place a washcloth in the water to soak for 10 minutes. Remove the cloth, and apply it to your face or chest for 10-15 minutes. Repeat as necessary.
While garlic has amazing anti-viral properties, you can also rely on the heat of chili or cayenne pepper to help ease your congestion. This home remedy for decongestion works due to the naturally occurring anti-inflammatory capsaicin in the pepper. Add it to your foods, create a spicy broth, or sip a turmeric latte with a pinch of cayenne added in!
With a better understanding of what congestion is, what causes it, and how to treat it yourself, put together a home remedy kit to have on hand for the next time you get a stuffy nose. Indeed, treating your congestion naturally allows for a much more efficient (and cheaper!) decongestant than buying all the ones lining the shelf of the pharmacy.