If you’ve got chronic chest congestion, you’ve probably already gathered your fair share of home remedies to clear lungs. But while natural products like herbs for lungs are a great start to help you avoid drugs and devices, simple techniques exist that can also help. Talk to a respiratory therapist to learn how to combine strategic coughing with exercise and gravity.
Read more: What Are the Causes of Chest Congestion?
Specialized Coughing Provides Lung Support
It seems almost too simple to be effective, but coughing is one of the best lung cleanse methods around. It's important to master how to cough effectively in order to clear whatever your lungs need to expel. Coughing too much or too little can actually be harmful, exhausting and unproductive. But with the right technique, your clearance will be more comfortable and highly effective.
Begin by sitting up straight. Inhale slowly and deeply, then hold your breath for three seconds. Exhale about one-fourth of your air; then cough as forcefully as you can. Repeat three times. Rest three or four minutes between those groups of three coughs if you become light-headed or tired. Repeat a series of three or four cycles every hour, if needed.
A directed, or huff, cough is another effective lung cleanse. After you inhale, exhale until just before your urge to cough becomes irresistible. Try very hard not to cough yet. Repeat three times; then cough strongly to expel the mucus you have raised.
Cough suppressants should be used only if an excessive, dry or hacking cough is exhausting you or causing pain. Even when taking over-the-counter remedies, cough exercises can still be done. Use OTC and prescription cough suppressants wisely. An occasional, productive cough should not be suppressed.
Ease Chest Congestion With Gravity
Postural lung drainage uses gravity to drain mucus from your lungs. This method of lung support is best done with the help of another person. Ask a respiratory therapist or clinician to demonstrate and teach you the basics. It's helpful for another family member or friend to also learn these techniques of positioning, chest percussion and vibration.
For a gentle lung cleanse, lie on your bed with the most congested part of your chest pointed to the ceiling. Hold this position for up to 15 minutes while practicing your coughing techniques. Your helper should use cupped hands to clap the upper chest wall to mobilize the mucus.
Alternatively, hands can be pressed on your chest and vibrated quickly for the same purpose. Pressures should be firm but never hard enough to cause pain. It can take some practice, but you'll soon find that gravity is a simple way to achieve lung clearance.
Get More Exercise
Exercise is one of the most important home remedies to clear lungs, according to Karen Conyers, a registered respiratory therapist at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Regular exercise to promote lung clearance is best undertaken when you are well. This kind of activity builds up the chest, abdominal and accessory muscles you'll need for effective coughing.
Exercise training for your coughing muscles is one important goal of lung support for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Gentle movements you can tolerate when you are sick, plus plenty of fluids, will help mobilize mucus and get air behind it for a powerful, expulsive cough and overall lung cleanse.
Read more: Yoga for Chest Congestion
- Airway Clearance: Karen Conyers, BSRT, RRT.
- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: Basics of Postural Drainage and Percussion
- Respiratory Care Journal: Forced Expiratory Technique, Directed Cough, and Autogenic Drainage
- Cincinnati Childrens Hospital: Huff Cough
- Maryland University of Integrative Health: Five Top Wintertime Herbs
Walt Pickut has published peer-reviewed medical research since 1971. Pickut teaches presentational speaking and holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors and is editor for "The Jamestown Gazette." Pickut holds bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and master's degrees in physiology and mass communication.