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Respiratory congestion

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Respiratory congestion is due to the fluid and mucus accumulation in the chest due to any heart or lung disease or overproduction of mucus due to an infection. There appears symptoms like pain, soreness, discomfort, nasal congestion, itchy eyes, watery discharge from eyes and nose, wheezing, coughing and breathing difficulty. Patient with congestive lungs may experience both a productive cough or a dry cough. Respiratory congestion can be a chronic condition in people suffering from lung and heart disorders or an acute emergency requiring immediate medical supervision.

Causes

The most frequent and common reason for upper respiratory tract infections causing congestion are the bacteria, viruses and the particles in the air.

The inhaled particles (like dust, allergens), viruses or bacteria enter the upper respiratory tract and are trapped to the cilia(tiny hair-like structure) entering through the mucous membranes of the nose. In defense, there is inflammation and production of mucus in an attempt to get rid of the foreign particles. When the body is unable to remove them mucus becomes thicker and gets stuck inside the respiratory tract. There is a feeling of congestion in the chest with excessive cough, wheezing, shallow breaths, dyspnea.

Lung disease: The lungs become congested due to the distention of alveolar walls and blood capillaries in the lungs with blood due to any active infection followed by blood seepage in the space outside the blood vessels causing pulmonary edema. It is a common complication of heart disorders. If a large amount of blood shifts occurs from pulmonary blood vessels to the spaces outside the blood vessels of the lungs become life-threatening causing severe ischemia, mitral stenosis, and volume overload of the hearts left ventricle. This shift can occur dues to chemical toxins, heart disease or lung problems. It can be the first sign of coronary heart failure, therefore, acute symptoms should not be taken for granted. Bronchitis, TB, pneumonia are some of the lung diseases responsible for congestion in the lungs.

Heart disease: In heart-related respiratory congestion there is an inability of the left ventricle to function properly and eject its contents. This inability causes blood to back up and drop cardiac output. The blood pressure, the fluid volume rises to compensate for the fall in cardiac output. Eventually, the blood escapes through the capillaries into the alveoli and flooding them. The accumulated blood causes edema making it difficult for the lungs to expand. This hampers the normal respiratory processes. Other disorders responsible for congestion of respiratory organs the lungs are not able to drain the fluids properly because of the blocked veins include disease of kidney and liver, burns, Hodgkin's disease, excess intravenous fluids, and nutritional problems.


Symptoms of respiratory congestion:

  • Difficulty in breathing, better felt when sitting upright
  • Distress to sleep at night
  • Shallow breaths
  • Wheezing and rales
  • Coughing
  • Frothy, bloody fluid (pus may be present) coughed from the lungs
  • Rapid pulse
  • Cold clammy skin
  • Enlarged veins in the neck
  • Bluish discoloration of the skin


Diagnosis: A diagnosis for respiratory congestion with pulmonary edema can be made based on the symptoms and physical examination of the patient. Although certain tests like a routine blood test, chest x-ray, Arterial blood gas are necessary to confirm the diagnosis.


Treatment

Immediate emergency treatment is required in case of a sudden attack of respiratory congestion. The first measure in treating the patient of respiratory congestion is to maintain the ABC i.e. airway breathing and circulation. Maintainance of ventilation is necessary to reduce the pressure of the fluid and improve the function of heart either by elevating the patient's head, placing the patient to sit upright so that he can breathe properly, administration of oxygen, using drug therapy or with mechanical ventilation/ tracheal intubation (in some cases).

Mild congestion can be treated at home. Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of fluids, using steam helps in thinning of mucus. Cool mist/steam vaporizer or hot showers are some of the easy home remedies used by many for over the counter relief from respiratory congestion.

Homeopathic Clinical tips to be used for respiratory congestion are

Antimonium tartaricum: Cough with rattling sound in the chest, with difficulty to pass mucus are the indications of this remedy. Drowsy dizzy feeling, better with expectoration, lying on the right side and sitting up.

Bryonia: The cough is dry and very painful, poor digestion and makes the stomach hurt. Dryness allover, worse from any movement, need to hold still. The person does not like to talk and wants to be left alone when ill.

Causticum: Chest disorders with a deep, hard, wrenching cough indicates a requisite for this particular remedy. There is a feeling of mucus that is stuck in the throat and upper chest, to loosen it the person coughs continually. Chest feels raw and sore with a sensation of rock stuck inside. Worse when the days are colder and clear, and better when the weather is wet.

Dulcamara: The person catches allergies very easily when the weather changes from warm-dry to wet-cold. A tickly, husky, hoarse, and loose cough is experienced and there is general worse feeling from any physical exertion. Great susceptibility to respiratory congestive diseases.

Hepar sulphuris calcareum: Congestion in the chest with a build-up of yellow sticky mucus in throat. The person is highly sensitive to drafts of cold air, even a minor draft or projecting an arm out of the covers may set off bouts of coughing. Cold food or drink aggravates the symptoms.

Kali bichromium: A troublesome tickling in the throat with strings of sticky yellow mucus calls for this remedy. Taste in the mouth is metallic, brassy, with a hacking cough that starts with a sensation of coldness inside the chest Coughing can lead to pain behind the breastbone which extends to the shoulders. Breathing may make a rattling sound during sleep.

Pulsatilla: Congestion in the lungs with a feeling of weight in the chest. Dry cough at night while loose choking and gagging cough with thick yellow mucus in the morning. Silicea: sensitive and nervous people prone to infections with swollen lymph nodes are rightly fitted for this remedy. Offensive greenish-yellow mucus while coughing. Stitching pains in the back.

Alpha-RC tablets for respiratory congestion

Alpha-RC tablets are the proven combination offered by Schwabe India to treat respiratory congestion and its related symptoms. It is found very effective in controlling inflammation conditions of the chest causing catarrh. It is very helpful in controlling sneezing, coryza, fever associated with cough, tenderness of chest, headache and discomfort in the chest. It is found effective in calming the nerves of patients under respiratory distress. Breathlessness, cough with expectoration, spastic muscular contraction, hoarseness caused by toxic stimulants like cigarette smoke, dust, fumes are also effectively restrained by the use of these tablets.

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