If your workplace is anything like ours, your numbers have been decimated with the dreaded lurgy going around the office.
Many are falling victim to that dreaded symptom - the sore throat.
- Opinion: Why don't more New Zealanders get the flu vaccination?
- Nutritious diet vital to fighting the winter flu
- Flu season hitting Australia faster and harder than ever before
With the free sore throat test now available in around 300 New Zealand pharmacies, the pharmacist can tell you whether your sore throat is viral or bacterial. If it turns out it's bacterial, then you can book an appointment with your GP to get it treated. However, if it's viral, there is not much that can be done other than soothing the symptoms.
Luckily, we've compiled a list to help with that very thing. Here are some of the top ways to rid yourself of that sore, scratchy throat.
You're probably sick to death of hearing "have you tried a hot lemon and honey?", but as usual, clichés are clichés for a reason. Honey can coat the throat, working as an effective cough suppressant, and drinking regular tea keeps you hydrated - another important step.
Mānuka honey is always the best option if you can afford it - it has strong bacteria killing power. Nutritionist Danijela Unkovich recommends one with a high UMF - The antibacterial power will increase as the rating on the jar does (e.g. UMF5+, 10+, 12+, 15+, 18+, 20+). For more therapeutic bang for your buck, go for a higher UMF value.
You can find more of Unkovich's top tips for working with honey here.
Gargle with salt water
It sounds counter intuitive, but actually gargling with warm salt water can help soothe a scratchy throat. The salt helps relieve the discomfort, while pulling mucus out of your swollen, inflamed tissue (yum!).
The Mayo Clinic recommends combining 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of table salt with 4 to 8 ounces of warm water. Stir until the salt dissolves. Then gargle with it for several seconds and spit it out. Repeat the salt gargle several times each day.
The right herbs
If you're at the pharmacy but looking for a more natural option, give Kiwiherb a go. Developed by a Kiwi pharmacist, the Herbal Throat Spray and Children's Throat Syrup contain Thyme, Propolis, Kawakawa, Echinacea and certified organic Manuka and Thyme Honey for soothing the throat.
Studies show Thyme is anti-inflammatory, which will hopefully soothe that redness.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar went through a real moment a few years ago where everyone was drinking it, thinking it would clear their skin, make them lose weight etc. Unfortunately it's not a miracle cure all - but it is mightily effective at soothing a sore throat. That's because it's main active ingredient, acetic acid, helps fight bacteria.
According to this report, the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, known as the father of medicine, even prescribed a combination of apple cider vinegar and honey (there it is again) to treat flu symptoms such as coughs and sore throats.
Betadine throat gargle
My mum swore by this growing up, and I have no doubt many readers had the same childhood fear of the brown formula getting mixed up. I resisted at the time because it tastes horrific, but my God it works so well. It's a concentrated anti-bacterial formula that will help kill off some of the nasties plaguing your throat.