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Throat self–care

Sore throats

Sore throats are usually caused by virus infections like colds or the flu. Having a sore throat is very common. The discomfort can range from a scratchy feeling to severe pain.

You may also have:

  • painful, enlarged neck glands
  • a cough
  • blocked ears
  • a slight fever (37.2 to 37.8°C)
  • tiredness and headache

Self–care when you have a sore throat

If you have a viral sore throat, some of these things may help.

  • drink more fluids. (Drinking through a straw may hurt less.)
  • eat soft foods that are easy to swallow. Don’t eat spicy, salty or acidic foods
  • try cold fluids, ice blocks, or honey and lemon juice in hot water
  • gargle with warm salt water (1/2 tsp salt in 200ml water)
  • suck on hard sweets or throat lozenges
  • take pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (as directed by your health professional or pharmacist)
  • breathe warm, humidified air
  • if you feel hoarse or lose your voice, rest your throat by talking less until it improves
  • get plenty of rest, consider taking a few days off lectures/work to reduce the spread of infection and to help your recovery
  • always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough
  • avoid close physical contact such as kissing, and don’t share eating or drinking utensils (eg, cups or knives and forks)
  • let your College CCL/Warden or flat mates/friends know you are unwell

When to see your doctor

Most viral sore throats last up to one week and you probably won’t need to see a doctor. However, you should see your doctor if you get any of these symptoms (it is important to check for bacterial infections which are a risk for developing rheumatic fever)

  • a sore throat that lasts more than a few days and getting worse
  • difficulty swallowing saliva, fluids and soft food, difficulty breathing
  • your tonsils are enlarged or coated
  • swelling in your neck
  • earache or joint pain.
  • skin rash
  • a temperature of 38.6°C or higher that lasts more than 2 days
  • a headache that lasts several days
  • if your lips, skin or nails look blue, or you’re feeling confused, it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible


Meningitis is a bacterial disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis. There are various groups of bacteria including groups A, B, C, Y and W.

  • 1-2 people in 10 who survive have long term complications
  • 1-2 people out of every 10 will die

Those most at risk are:

  • adolescents and young adults aged between 15-19 years
  • smokers
  • those living in residential colleges and crowded accommodation
  • binge drinking
  • having another respiratory condition eg influenza
  • having a condition affecting the immune system
  • Māori and Pacific ethnicity

Symptoms of meningitis can develop suddenly and include:

  • a high fever
  • headache
  • sleepiness
  • confusion
  • abdominal pain
  • joint and muscle pains.
  • a stiff neck
  • dislike of bright lights
  • vomiting
  • a rash consisting of reddish-purple pin-prick spots or bruises that don’t fade with pressure

What to do       

  • if you or your friend/ family are worried you are seriously ill, get medical attention straight away or call an ambulance by dialing 111
  • say what the symptoms are
  • you can also call Healthline free on 0800 611 116, 24 hours a day – even if you have already been seen by a health professional
  • vaccination reduces the risk and is very effective – For more info

NOTE: Meningitis ACWY vaccination is free for 13 to 25 year old residents in college accommodation

Useful contacts

  • Student Health
    Tel 0800 479 821
    Open Mon–Fri 8:30- 5pm
    Wed 9:45am start
    Evenings 5pm to 8:30pm semester only
  • Healthline – nurse advice 24/7
    Tel 0800 611 116
  • Or go to
    • Dunedin Urgent Doctor and Accident Centre – 18 Filleul Street  8am–10pm
    • Emergency Department( emergencies only) Dunedin Hospital- Great King Street, Dunedin