Congestion – What’s The Cause
And How To Cope

‘stuffy’ known as
congestion, it could
BE a symptom of a
cold or sinus infection1

But there are lots of reasons for congestion. Let’s look at the different types and ways to cope, so you can get on with your daily life.

‘stuffy’ known as
congestion, it could
BE a symptom of a
cold or sinus infection1

But there are lots of reasons for congestion. Let’s look at the different types and ways to cope, so you can get on with your daily life.


If you’ve caught a cold, you can experience host of uncomfortable symptoms including congestion with some or all of the following:

sore throat
mucus build up
swollen sinuses

Normally, you don’t need to see your GP if you have a cold. It’s caused by a virus and antibiotics don’t work with viruses, so your best bet is to look after yourself at home.

Consider taking an over the counter remedy to help you manage the symptoms. Lemsip has a good range of cold and flu products, including decongestants.1


Your chest gets congested when your body produces more mucus than usual. You can have a cough that brings up mucus. The inflammation and build-up of mucus can also cause wheezing and/or a sore throat. And you may find it difficult to sleep.

It’s normal to experience extra chest mucus from time to time. But if it’s happening regularly and is very uncomfortable, or if there are other symptoms, consider seeing your GP.

Chest congestion can be caused by:

acid reflux
bacterial and viral infections
chronic bronchitis
cystic fibrosis
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
other lung conditions

Here are some ways you can cope with chest congestion:

Drink warm fluids. Staying hydrated thins the mucus
Gargle with half a teaspoon of salt in warm water
Steam loosens mucus and reduces coughing
Take lemon / garlic / ginger / honey in a hot drink
Use a humidifier / vaporizer / inhale over a bowl/hot shower/bath
Take a Lemsip decongestant powder/oral solution2

Coughing is a natural and normal way the body gets rid of excess extra mucus or irritants from the lungs. It can even help remove germs to prevent infection.

But coughing at night can be a problem. It can be worse than during the day. If you are lying flat in bed, the mucus can pool in the back of the throat (known as postnasal drip) and create a cough. It can be really tiring and stop you sleeping when you need it most – to recover. If you’re struggling to sleep, try popping a few extra pillows under your head to raise it and open up your chest.3

Good news, you can ease your symptoms to help you cope and get on with life. There is a good range of Lemsip cough remedies, decongestant powders and oral solutions specially designed for chest congestion. Available over the counter at your local pharmacy or supermarket.

There's no quick-fire way of treating congestion in the chest brought on by a viral infection. It’s a natural immune response and usually clears up on its own when your system has fought off the virus. That can take anything from a few days, up to a couple of weeks.

There’s usually no need to see a GP, especially if you’re otherwise healthy and can eat and drink OK. In some cases, however, it’s wise to speak to your GP; if you’re over age 65, have an existing health problem or you’re experiencing lots of wheezing. Or if your cough and congestion doesn’t go away on its own after a few weeks, and you’re concerned about any of your symptoms.


Also known as sinusitis, where your sinuses swell up. It’s common after a cold or flu and is usually caused by an infection. It will usually clear up on its own, within 2 or 3 weeks. If it’s taking longer, you may want to consider taking medicines.

The symptoms of sinusitis can include:

stuffed or runny nose
bad breath
reduced sense of smell
a sinus headache
a high temperature
green / yellow mucus from the nose
pain, swelling or soreness around the cheeks / eyes / forehead

Signs to look out for in young children could include irritability, difficulty feeding, and breathing through the mouth.

sinusitis/sinus infection

You can often treat mild sinusitis without seeing a GP by:

Getting plenty of rest
Avoiding allergic triggers and not smoking
Drinking plenty of fluids
Cleaning your nose with a salt-water solution to ease congestion
Taking painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (do not give aspirin to children under 16)

If your symptoms persist however, or you continue to feel unwell, it’s a good idea to see your GP.4



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