My Dad Had Severe Chest Congestion. Here Are 2 Things He Did to Fix It.

Two changes that made all the difference for the long-term

Photo by Nino Liverani on Unsplash

My dad has had asthma for the past 10 years and probably for much longer but it’s been 10 years since his symptoms have started appearing more regularly.

Asthma is a disease or condition that primarily affects the lungs. During an asthma attack, the lung airways become constricted, swollen, and inflamed. These airways produce extra mucus which causes shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing.

Ever since my dad started having these symptoms, he uses an inhaler regularly both during an asthma attack and for long-time prevention.

He primarily uses two types of inhalers which are medicines that relax the muscles around the lung airways and help remove mucus from the lungs. When the muscles relax, the airways open up which allows for easier breathing.

One inhaler is short-acting which is used during an asthma attack as it quickly provides relief from symptoms.

The other inhaler my dad uses is long-acting which is used to control asthma and not for quick relief. They help prevent asthma attacks and work for much longer.

These medications have helped him greatly and allow him to manage his symptoms and prevent his asthma attacks from progressing too much.

Some things that can trigger an asthma attack in my dad are the consumption of tree nuts, talking too loudly and for too long on the phone, eating too much fast food, etc.

So my dad tries his best to limit this type of stuff and mostly, he remains healthy with an occasional asthma attack here and there.

However, as we all know, we are currently living in a COVID-19 infested world and while others are proudly claiming we are “post-pandemic”, we are still not there yet.

As with this new pandemic, any sudden appearance of symptoms may cause one to think they might have COVID-19.

In fact, some of the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of taste or smell

My dad started having some of his most common asthma symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath around 4 weeks ago. When he would use his inhaler, he would feel moderate relief for a short time.

However, after that, he started having these symptoms daily. My dad initially suspected it was COVID-19 but by the time he started having these symptoms, my dad was fully vaccinated with both Pfizer doses.

By the way, fully vaccinated means it’s been over 2 weeks after a second dose in a 2-dose series.

So my dad didn’t really think it was COVID-19, and I urged my dad to think about what could be the reason behind his almost daily asthma attacks.

My dad said he didn’t know and by this point, he said that he had severe chest congestion.

He knew this because he could feel his chest literally tremble whenever he would cough and no amount of asthma medication was totally relieving his symptoms.

So, my dad booked an appointment with a family physician and she said these exact words to him:

“In my many years of practice, I have never seen a patient in a worse condition than you.”

The physician then ordered a chest x-ray which came out to be normal. Chest x-rays primarily detect foreign objects and a buildup of fluid (pneumonia) around the lungs while also being good at detecting cancer, infection, or any air collecting around the lungs.

X-rays don’t really show mucus congestion or asthma so diagnosis is made on symptoms and history.

However, my physician quickly gave my dad an injection which I am not sure the purpose of. It was probably to quickly clear mucus from his lungs or dilate the airways.

Also, my dad was given a quick nebulizer treatment that slowly helped clear his chest and was told to take antibiotics for 5 days.

Following his visit to the doctor, my dad felt much better and over the subsequent days, my dad said his chest felt more relaxed.

He wasn’t feeling totally well, but recovery takes time. Then my dad told me something that he had not disclosed to me before and that was that he had been eating McDonald’s burgers for a couple of days.

That was a facepalm moment for me because my dad knows that fast food is a potent trigger of his asthma attacks and the repeated consumption of these burgers probably exacerbated his condition.

Of course, I don’t really need to mention this but in our modern society, this phrase needs to get put up on a billboard for everyone to see and understand:

“Fast food is TERRIBLE for your health.”

Fast food accelerates the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, etc.

In fact, eating fast food two or more times every week increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 27% and people who consume fast food four or more times per week increase their risk of dying from coronary heart disease by 80%.

In my dad’s case, there is a significant association between consuming fast food and severe asthma along with symptoms such as wheezing. Fast food increases inflammation in the body which profoundly affects the lungs and can trigger asthma attacks.

Additionally, eating fast food three or more times per week was associated with a 39% increased risk of severe asthma in adolescents.

Fast food can lead to asthma attacks and despite this, my dad had been consuming McDonald’s burgers for many days.

My dad then made me a promise that he would try not to eat fast food ever in his life and soon after he went to the doctor, he stopped consuming those burgers.

After the nebulizer treatment and course of antibiotics, my dad felt much better and I am positive that much of his relief was also due to him stopping his consumption of fast food.

If my dad still had continued to consume fast food even after finding relief from the doctor, his asthma attacks and chest congestion would have returned so my dad made a very wise decision to stop.

After one week, my dad was feeling much better but was not 100% his usual self.

That is where my dad’s wisdom kicked into high gear.

My dad has a habit of drinking chai every day, which is a blend of black tea, milk, and other spices, and my mom would always put a small amount of ginger in his tea.

However, for some reason, my mom stopped putting ginger in my dad’s tea for quite a while now.

My dad then told me to search on the Internet if ginger provides any relief from asthma and chest congestion.

I searched via Google and of course a tremendous amount of benefits of ginger popped up such as soothes sore muscles, lowers blood sugar, relieves nausea, reduces inflammation, etc.

Ginger is anti-inflammatory and because asthma leads to inflammation of the lung airways, I thought that ginger could help my dad.

I also found that ginger serves as a bronchodilator to open up the airways and also helps with breaking down mucus and expelling it from the lungs.

This is something that my dad was struggling with since he wasn’t feeling 100% of his usual self and so I told my dad and my dad then immediately told my mom to start adding ginger to his chai.

Within 2 days, my dad told me that his chest congestion was totally clear, and he stopped having asthma symptoms such as wheezing and coughing.

He told me that ginger made such a profound difference that it’s been 2 weeks since he started consuming ginger in his chai and he hasn’t had an asthma attack in all that time.

Sometimes, when my dad feels some tightness in his chest, he takes his long-acting inhaler but he hasn’t had to take the short-acting inhaler since he hasn’t had an asthma attack.

So two things that made a difference in my dad’s health was the addition of ginger to his chai and stopping fast food.

How Can This Apply to Your Life?

The more people that understand this statement, the more lives we can save and the better our health will be both in the present and future.

That statement is,

“At the end of the day, you are responsible for your health.”

Whenever you have an infection or are sick and you go to the doctor, the doctor most likely prescribes medicine that you have to take for a set amount of time.

When we start to feel better after we are done taking our medications, then we go on with our lives.

Very few people stop to evaluate their lifestyle and diet habits and even fewer people try to take the necessary steps to make changes to improve their health.

Believe it or not, everyone can change his or her health to improve lives for the better.

After we start to feel better after visiting the doctor, we continue with our old unhealthy habits and then we ponder why we are always getting sick or experiencing pain in some area of our body.

If you are a regular smoker and you know it’s affecting your health, please make some changes and quit smoking.

If you are a regular drinker, please reduce the number of drinks you consume or altogether quit alcohol.

After the doctor visit, my dad first stopped consuming fast food altogether and started consuming chai with ginger.

Both changes improved his respiratory health and significantly reduced his asthma attacks.

Sure, the course of antibiotics, the nebulizer treatment, and that one injection did significantly help my dad, but these treatments were for the short term to resolve the problem that my dad was facing.

It was up to my dad to make changes to his eating habits to improve his health for the long term, and I am glad that it worked.

“The first wealth is health.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Samir S.

Samir S.

Writing to Inform, Educate, & Teach | Obsessed with Health & Wellness | https://samir-s.medium.com/subscribe