Frequently asked questions

Cold and flu diagnosis accordion

  • Colds

    • Do I have a cold or the flu?

      Although both caused by viruses, cold and flu have different symptoms. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly whilst cold symptoms occur more slowly.

      Cold symptoms often begin with a sore throat. After one or two days, this typically gives way to nasal symptoms and congestion along with a cough. Fever is uncommon in adults, but a slight fever is possible. Children are more likely to have a fever with a cold.

      Flu symptoms come on more quickly than cold symptoms. Symptoms of flu include fever, sore throats, headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, congestion and coughs. Most flu symptoms gradually improve over two to five days, but it's not uncommon to feel run down for a week or more. Seasonal influenza is not usually associated with diarrhea and vomiting, at least not in adults. However, these symptoms appear with stomach flu, which is a popular but inaccurate term for gastroenteritis.

    • How many colds am I likely to get each year?

      Most people tend to get between 2 and 5 colds per year. Children tend to get colds more often than adults, because they haven’t yet built up an immunity.

    • Can I take antibiotics to treat my cold?

      Colds are caused by viruses. Antibiotics only work against bacteria not viruses. Using unnecessary antibiotics on a frequent basis can compromise health-promoting bacteria in your digestive tract and can cause you to develop a resistance to antibiotics.

    • Why do children catch so many colds?

      Children get fewer colds as they get older because their immune systems become stronger. Colds are usually more common in the colder months when children are inside and in close contact with one other. Younger children tend to get colds more easily as they have yet to build up immunity to the many different cold viruses around. Children with older brothers and sisters and those who attend nursery tend to have more colds.

    • Is there a cure for common cold?

      There isn't a cure for the common cold. The best you can do is to treat the symptoms so that your child can get back to normal as quickly as possible. Usually symptoms are worse in the first 2-3 days, and then begin to ease off.

      Cold symptoms can be treated with analgesics/antipyretic such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease aches and pains, headaches, and fever.

      Otrivin has products specifically formulated for the relief of nasal congestion due to colds, hay fever, sinusitis and allergic rhinitis in children and babies.

    • Is there a cold vaccine?

      There is currently no vaccine for the common cold. There is a flu vaccine but this does not have any effect on the cold.

    • How can I treat a cold?

      There is no cure for the cold. However you can treat the symptoms.

      Drink a lot of fluids (avoiding those with caffeine like coffee, tea, and colas) to help mucus flow freely. Gargle with salt water to help relieve a sore throat decongestants can help shrink dilated vessels in the nose. Saline nasal sprays can also open breathing passages and may be used freely use paracetamol or ibuprofen to help bring down fevers or headache for minor coughs, water and fruit juices probably help more than cough preparations or syrups avoid smoky areas.

    • Should I stay home if I have a cold?

      The decision is up to you. Consider this, if you’re ill, you’ll have a hard time functioning and performing at your normal level. And you’ll expose those around you to infection, especially in the first two days of your cold when you’re most infectious. Staying home when you’re sick helps to stop the spread of germs.

      There is another factor to take into account. Trying to carry on as normal, instead of staying home, may lead to a worsened condition, requiring an even longer recovery period.

    • Can I catch a cold from spending time in cold weather?

      In short, no. The only way to catch the common cold is by virus. So why do people get sick more often in the winter? There is no definitive answer. But when it is cold outside, people tend to spend more time together inside where they can easily pass on viruses.

      There is also evidence that viruses are more easily transmitted in dry air – exactly the sort of conditions created when the heating is turned on. No matter what the temperature it is still cold viruses that cause the cold not the temperature outside.

  • Allergies

    • What is an allergy?

      Allergy is the word used to describe a reaction that the body has to a particular food or substance in the environment. Most of the substances that cause allergies are not harmful and have no effect on people who aren’t allergic.

      Any substance that triggers an allergic reaction is called an allergen. Some of the most common allergens include:

      · pollen
      · house dust mites
      · mould
      · pets
      · nuts

      An allergy develops when the body’s immune system reacts to an allergen as though it’s a threat, like an infection. It produces antibodies to fight off the allergen, in a reaction called an immune response.

      The next time a person comes into contact with the allergen, the body remembers the previous exposure and produces more of the antibodies. This also causes the release of chemicals in the body that lead to an allergic reaction.

    • How can I tell if I have an allergy?

      Allergic reactions do not happen the first time you come into contact with an allergen, but at a later point of contact.

      This is because the body’s immune system has to develop first sensitivity to the allergen before you can become allergic to it. In other words, your immune system needs to recognise and memorise the allergen (for example, pet hair or pollen). This process is known as sensitisation.
      Typical allergic reactions involve irritation and inflammation (swelling) in the body. Symptoms may include:

      · blocked nose
      · sneezing
      · cough
      · itchy eyes, nose or throat
      · watery eyes
      · wheezing
      · shortness of breath
      · asthma
      · eczema

      It’s important to remember that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so see your doctor for advice if you're not sure what's causing your symptoms.

    • Is asthma an allergy?

      Asthma and allergies often go hand-in-hand. Asthma is a disease of the branches of the windpipe (bronchial tubes), which carry air in and out of the lungs. There are several different types of asthma: allergic asthma is a type of asthma triggered by an allergy (for example, to pollen or mold spores).

      During an asthma attack three things happen to impede breathing:

      1. The muscles in the lungs tighten causing airways to narrow.

      2. The linings of the airways become swollen and inflamed.

      3. Finally, the cells surrounding them produce thicker than normal mucus.

      This hinders the movement of air in and out of the lungs and makes breathing difficult.

      If you suffer from asthma, and your symptoms get worse, please immediately contact your doctor.

    • Am I at risk of developing asthma if I have an allergy?

      Asthma can develop if a person isn’t aware they’re allergic to pollen and doesn’t treat it. Before the start of the pollen season it’s advisable to visit your doctor who may prescribe antihistamines. In the case of allergic asthma, it’s also important to limit your contact with the allergen.

    • What are allergen immunotherapy shots?

      Allergen immunotherapy shots help your body get used to allergens, the things that trigger an allergic reaction. They don’t cure allergies, but eventually your symptoms will get better and you may not have allergic reactions as often.

      Also called "allergen immunotherapy," allergy shots may work for you if you don’t respond well to oral allergy medicines, or if you have symptoms more than three months a year.

      Allergen immunotherapy works by slowly exposing your body to an allergen so that it can build up an immunity to these irritants. Over time, the amount of allergen given in each shot is increased whilst the time between shots will decrease until your symptoms improve. Please contact your doctor for more information about allergen immunotherapy.

    • Do allergen immunotherapy shots work for all allergies?

      A lot depends on how many things you are allergic to and how severe your symptoms are. Generally, allergen immunotherapy shots work for allergies to bee stings, pollen, dust mites, mould and pet dander. There’s no proof that they work for food, drug, or latex allergies.

    • How can I reduce the effects of my allergy?

      First try to avoid as much as possible the allergens you are sensitive to.

      If you suffer from a congested nose due to seasonal allergy (hay fever) or allergic rhinitis, Otrivin nasal sprays are an effective way to relieve the nasal symptoms.

      If you’re allergic to pollen, avoid the allergen and you could use an air conditioner to keep it out of your house. For dust mites, put dust-proof covers on your mattress and pillows. If you’re allergic to pets, try to keep them out of your bedroom.

    • What kinds of allergies are there?

      There are lots of common allergens, including:

      · pollen
      · mould
      · pet dander
      · dust
      · seafood
      · egg
      · latex

      Insect bites, jewellery, cosmetics, spices, and other substances can also cause allergic reactions.

      Some people may also develop allergy-like reactions to hot or cold temperatures, sunlight, or other environmental triggers. Sometimes, a single friction (rubbing or roughly stroking the skin) can cause an allergic reaction like hives/urticaria.

    • Can children get allergies?

      In most people, allergies first appear during infancy or childhood. Allergic disorders rank number one among children’s chronic diseases.

      Any child may become allergic, but children from families with a history of allergy are more likely to be allergic. Children may inherit the tendency to become allergic from their parents, but only some of them will develop an active allergic disease.

      Children’s allergies can show up in different ways, including:

      · skin rashes (atopic dermatitis or eczema)
      · seasonal/perennial allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever)
      · food allergies
      · asthma

      Allergic rhinitis, or the seasonal allergy ‘hay fever’ as it’s better known, is the most common of all childhood allergies. It causes runny, itchy nose, sneezing, postnasal drip and nasal congestion. It can occur at any time of the year.

    • When do allergies peak?

      If your allergies act up at certain times of the year (seasonal allergy), you may be allergic to pollen. In the spring, pollinating trees are usually to blame for allergies. In summer, grasses and weeds mainly make pollen. In autumn, it's weeds, especially ragweed.

      If your symptoms tend to last all year (perannual allergy), you may be allergic to dust mites, pet dander or mould. Outdoors, mould usually peaks in late summer and early autumn. But it can be around all year.

      You can be allergic to more than one thing, and you can have both seasonal and year-round allergies. In fact, it’s common for people who have allergies to be allergic to more than one trigger.

    • What causes hay fever?

      Usually, hay fever is caused by pollen produced by grass, ash and small-leaved linden. Hay fever is an allergic reaction of the organism to ash, which belongs to the olive family of plants.

    • Which plants cause allergy symptoms?

      You can expect more plant pollen and seasonal allergies if you come into contact with any of these plants:

      Flowers/herbs

      Amaranth (pigweed), chamomile, chrysanthemums, daisies, goldenrod, ordinary sunflowers.

      Shrubs/vines

      Cypress, jasmine vine, juniper, wisteria.

      Trees

      Alder, ash (male), aspen (male), beech, birch, box elder (male), cedar (male), cottonwood (male), elm, hickory, red and silver maples (male), mulberry (male), oak, olive, palm (male), pecan, pine, poplar (male), sycamore, walnut, willow (male).

      Grasses

      Bermuda, fescue, Johnson, June, orchard, perennial rye, redtop, salt grass, sweet vernal, timothy.

      Weeds

      Cocklebur, ragweed, Russian thistle, sagebrush

    • Are allergies genetic?

      The tendency to develop allergies is often hereditary, which means it can be passed down through your genes. However, just because you or your partner has allergies doesn't necessarily mean that your children will definitely get them.

      A specific allergy is not usually passed down through families. However, if both your parents have allergies, you are likely to have them too. The chance is also greater if your mother has allergies.

    • Can an allergy make me tired?

      Allergies can take their toll on many areas of your life. Tiredness and fatigue is a big one. You may often feel sleepy during the day, due to your blocked nasal passages disrupting sleep patterns. This is often referred to as ‘allergy fatigue syndrome’.

    • Can allergies cause headaches?

      Three types of headache can potentially be related to allergies:

      · sinus headaches (facial pain)
      · migraines
      · cluster headaches

      Some types of headaches have an allergic basis, but most do not. Before you see an allergist-immunologist, visit your doctor first to rule out the other more common causes of headaches.

  • Sinusitus

    • What is sinusitis?

      Sinusitis is an inflammation or infection of the lining of the sinus cavities. These are the hollow spaces in your cheeks and around your eyes.

      You have four pairs of sinuses in your head:

      · two behind your forehead
      · two at either side of the bridge of your nose
      · two behind your eyes
      · two behind your cheekbones

      Your sinuses open up into the cavity of your nose and help control the temperature and water content of the air reaching your lungs. Usually, the mucus naturally produced by your sinuses drains into your nose through small channels.

      Sinusitis can occur when these channels become blocked after the sinuses have been infected and inflamed. Sinus infections often follow a cold and can cause pain and pressure in your forehead, eye and jaw area.

    • What are the symptoms of sinusitis?

      If you feel pain and pressure in your face, and have a stuffy or runny nose, then there’s a strong possibility you are suffering from sinusitis. You might also feel an increase in the pain and pressure in your face when you lean forward or move your head. If you have severe pain in your sinuses, or a headache, fever and thick nasal discharge, please consult your doctor.

      Other common symptoms of sinusitis include:

      · pain and tenderness in facial sinuses
      · runny nose
      · blocked nose
      · fever
      · headaches
      · bad breath
      · thick nasal discharge
      · cough

    • What causes sinusitis?

      Sinusitis can be caused by:

      · viruses
      · bacteria
      · allergies
      · mechanical obstacles

      And the most common cause is the same viruses that cause the common cold. Many people with nasal allergies such as allergic rhinitis – for instance – are likely to have recurring or long-term sinusitis. Nasal polyps, foreign objects (usually in children), structural problems in the nose such as a deviated septum, and other conditions can also block the nasal passages, increasing the risk of sinusitis.

    • How can I prevent sinusitis?

      There are several ways you can reduce your chance of getting sinusitis:

      · treat stuffiness (nasal congestion) caused by colds or allergies as soon as you can. This can help prevent a bacterial infection from developing in your sinuses

      · avoid contact with people who have colds and other viral upper respiratory infections. If you do have contact with people who have these infections, wash your hands often, especially after being in contact with those who are infected

      · avoid cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoke in your home and workplace. Smoke causes and irritates inflamed membranes in your nose and sinuses

      · if you have allergies, avoid the things that trigger your allergy attacks. You could also consider talking to your doctor about allergy shots (immunotherapy)

      · avoid breathing dry air. Consider using a humidifier at home and work to increase the moisture in the air

      In general, the things that prevent colds also prevent acute sinusitis. The best advice is to live a healthy lifestyle. Don’t smoke, take regular exercise, enjoy a healthy vitamin-rich diet, get plenty of fresh air, get a good amount of sleep, limit your alcohol intake and avoid stress. This will strengthen your immune system and help to prevent diseases.

    • How long can sinusitis last?

      In uncomplicated cases, the symptoms of sinusitis begin to clear up in a few days. Sinusitis can be either acute (sudden) or chronic (long-term). Most acute viral sinus infections usually go away on their own within 10 to 14 days.

      However, if the inflammation does not completely go away and your sinusitis symptoms (such as severe pain in your sinuses, headaches, fever and thick nasal discharge) do not improve or worsen, there’s a possibility you may have developed chronic sinusitis, which may be infected by bacteria and might need to be treated with antibiotics. Therefore you should seek immediate advice from your doctor.

    • When should I see a doctor about my sinusitis?

      Within one to two weeks, acute sinusitis will usually have healed. However, if your symptoms still persist or get worse, please consult a doctor immediately.

    • How is sinusitis treated?

      For congested nasal or sinus mucosa, you can use Otrivin’s decongestant products, in the form of nasal drops and nasal sprays, to relieve the symptoms of sinusitis.

      Antibiotics don’t work for viral infections, so will not work for sinusitis caused by a virus. However, bacterial sinusitis can be treated with antibiotics. You will probably feel better in a few days, but some symptoms may last for several weeks. You may need to take the medicine for a longer time if you have chronic sinusitis.

      Medicines most often used to treat sinusitis include a combination of:

      · antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, which kill bacteria
      · decongestants, which reduce dilated small blood vessels and swelling of mucus membranes in the nose
      · analgesics antipyretic, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve pain and fever
      · aucolytics, which thin the mucus
      · corticosteroids, such as beclomethasone or prednisone, which reduce inflammation in the nasal passages. Some corticosteroids are used as an inhaled nasal spray, in the case of allergies, for example

      It is possible to develop "double sickening" while being treated for acute or chronic sinusitis. At first, you may begin to feel better from antibiotics and home treatment, but then your symptoms become worse and additional treatment may be needed, which requires a prescription from your doctor.

    • How can I treat my sinusitis without using medicine?

      The best advice is to keep yourself warm and steer clear of strenuous activities. There are also several things you can do at home to help relieve your symptoms:

      · drink plenty of fluids
      · avoid smoky areas
      · put a hot, damp towel or gel pack on your face for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, several times a day
      · breathe warm, moist air from a steamy shower, a hot bath, or a sink filled with hot water
      · use saltwater nose drops such as Otrivin Natural or Natural Plus to keep the nasal passages moist and use saline nasal washes to help keep the nasal passages open and wash out nasal discharge, mucus-trapped bacteria, viruses and bacteria

      If symptoms persist or worsen, such as pain in your sinuses, headaches, fever and thick nasal discharge, please consult your doctor immediately.

    • Is sinusitis contagious?

      Viral infections that lead to sinusitis can be contagious, whereas bacterial sinusitis is generally not.

      It’s important to remember that most viral upper respiratory infections (common colds) cause nasal congestion, which may involve the sinuses. If the viral sinus infection lasts well past the normal duration of a cold, there’s a possibility you might have viral sinusitis. These viruses are highly contagious and likely to cause a cold or sinusitis in others who come in contact with them.

      Bacterial sinusitis most often occurs as a complication of a viral common cold. Bacteria that are normally present in the nose and throat take advantage of the viral infection to invade the inflamed sinus passages. These sinusitis-causing bacteria may be passed from person to person, but won’t cause an infection unless the right conditions are present. Unlike with cold viruses, most people who come into contact with someone suffering with sinusitis won’t develop the infection, even if they are exposed to the bacteria.

  • Taking Otrivin

    • Can I use Otrivin while pregnant?

      It is not recommended to use Otrivin when you are pregnant, except Otrivin Natural.

    • Can I use Otrivin while breastfeeding?

      If you are breastfeeding, always consult your doctor before using Otrivin, except if you are using Otrivin Natural and Natural Plus.

    • Can I become addicted to Otrivin?

      It is unlikely that you will become addicted to Otrivin, if used as recommended. The active ingredient of Otrivin (xylometazoline) has been marketed in Europe for more than 50 years and has been used by more than 660 million people. The efficacy of the product as a nasal decongestant is well established. You should always carefully read the product leaflet before using Otrivin and comply with the dosage instruction, usage frequency and treatment duration.

    • How do I use Otrivin?

      To use Otrivin Nasal Sprays containing xylometazoline:

      · first cleanse the nose thoroughly
      · apply 1 to 2 sprays per nostril (for squeeze bottle) or 1 spray per nostril (for pump bottle)
      · the drug can be administered up to 3 times a day as needed (no more than 3 applications a day into each nostril)
      · do not exceed 3 applications daily in each nostril

      To use Otrivin Monodose:

      · bend the head backward and place the tip of the vial just inside the nostril
      · press carefully on the vial to obtain a few droplets and harder if needed
      · repeat this for the other nostril after turning your baby’s head to the other side
      · the product is usually applied 2-4 times a day per nostril

      To use Otrivin Natural Aspirator:

      · place the suction piece in your mouth, and the end of the refill in your baby’s nostril
      · gently use the suction mouth piece
      · repeat for the other nostril
      · throw away the dirty refill to prevent the risk of further infections

      To use Otrivin Nasal Drops:
      · tilt head backwards
      · squeeze 1 to 4 drops into each nostril, depending on the product formula

    • Can I use Otrivin with antihistamine\anti-allergy tablets?

      Yes. Otrivin is not contraindicated when used in combination with antihistamines and antiallergens.

    • Can Otrivin be used by children?

      Children can use Otrivin Natural and Natural Plus products that contain saline solution. Otrivin products that contain 0.1% xylometazoline should not be used in children aged less than 12 years of age. Otrivin 0.05% xylometazoline is indicated in children aged 1 to 11, and can be used under adult supervision.

    • Where can I buy Otrivin products?

      Otrivin products are available over the counter in pharmacies.

  • Top FAQ's

    • Do I have a cold or the flu?

      Although both caused by viruses, cold and flu have different symptoms. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly whilst cold symptoms occur more slowly.

      Cold symptoms often begin with a sore throat. After one or two days, this typically gives way to nasal symptoms and congestion along with a cough. Fever is uncommon in adults, but a slight fever is possible. Children are more likely to have a fever with a cold.

      Flu symptoms come on more quickly than cold symptoms. Symptoms of flu include fever, sore throats, headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, congestion and coughs. Most flu symptoms gradually improve over two to five days, but it's not uncommon to feel run down for a week or more. Seasonal influenza is not usually associated with diarrhea and vomiting, at least not in adults. However, these symptoms appear with stomach flu, which is a popular but inaccurate term for gastroenteritis.

    • How many colds am I likely to get each year?

      Most people tend to get between 2 and 5 colds per year. Children tend to get colds more often than adults, because they haven’t yet built up an immunity.

    • Can I take antibiotics to treat my cold?

      Colds are caused by viruses. Antibiotics only work against bacteria not viruses. Using unnecessary antibiotics on a frequent basis can compromise health-promoting bacteria in your digestive tract and can cause you to develop a resistance to antibiotics.

    • Why do children catch so many colds?

      Children get fewer colds as they get older because their immune systems become stronger. Colds are usually more common in the colder months when children are inside and in close contact with one other. Younger children tend to get colds more easily as they have yet to build up immunity to the many different cold viruses around. Children with older brothers and sisters and those who attend nursery tend to have more colds.

    • My child has a cold. What medicine should I use?

      There isn't a cure for the common cold. The best you can do is to treat the symptoms so that your child can get back to normal as quickly as possible. Usually symptoms are worse in the first 2-3 days, and then begin to ease off.

      Cold symptoms can be treated with analgesics such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease aches and pains, headaches, and fever. Young people and children should not take aspirin because of the risk of Reye's syndrome. Your doctor can provide you with more information. Otrivin 0.05% xylometazoline helps relieve nasal congestion in children aged 2 to 12 years old.

    • What is an allergy?

      Allergy is the word used to describe a reaction that the body has to a particular food or substance in the environment. Most of the substances that cause allergies are not harmful and have no effect on people who aren’t allergic.

      Any substance that triggers an allergic reaction is called an allergen. Some of the most common allergens include:

      · pollen
      · house dust mites
      · mould
      · pets
      · nuts

      An allergy develops when the body’s immune system reacts to an allergen as though it’s a threat, like an infection. It produces antibodies to fight off the allergen, in a reaction called an immune response.

      The next time a person comes into contact with the allergen, the body remembers the previous exposure and produces more of the antibodies. This also causes the release of chemicals in the body that lead to an allergic reaction.

    • How can I tell if I have an allergy?

      Allergic reactions do not happen the first time you come into contact with an allergen, but at a later point of contact.

      This is because the body’s immune system has to develop first sensitivity to the allergen before you can become allergic to it. In other words, your immune system needs to recognise and memorise the allergen (for example, pet hair or pollen). This process is known as sensitisation.
      Typical allergic reactions involve irritation and inflammation (swelling) in the body. Symptoms may include:

      · blocked nose
      · sneezing
      · cough
      · itchy eyes, nose or throat
      · watery eyes
      · wheezing
      · shortness of breath
      · asthma
      · eczema

      It’s important to remember that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so see your doctor for advice if you're not sure what's causing your symptoms.

    • What is sinusitis?

      Sinusitis is an inflammation or infection of the lining of the sinus cavities. These are the hollow spaces in your cheeks and around your eyes.

      You have four pairs of sinuses in your head:

      · two behind your forehead
      · two at either side of the bridge of your nose
      · two behind your eyes
      · two behind your cheekbones

      Your sinuses open up into the cavity of your nose and help control the temperature and water content of the air reaching your lungs. Usually, the mucus naturally produced by your sinuses drains into your nose through small channels.

      Sinusitis can occur when these channels become blocked after the sinuses have been infected and inflamed. Sinus infections often follow a cold and can cause pain and pressure in your forehead, eye and jaw area.

    • How can I prevent sinusitis?

      There are several ways you can reduce your chance of getting sinusitis:

      · treat stuffiness (nasal congestion) caused by colds or allergies as soon as you can. This can help prevent a bacterial infection from developing in your sinuses

      · avoid contact with people who have colds and other viral upper respiratory infections. If you do have contact with people who have these infections, wash your hands often, especially after being in contact with those who are infected

      · avoid cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoke in your home and workplace. Smoke causes and irritates inflamed membranes in your nose and sinuses

      · if you have allergies, avoid the things that trigger your allergy attacks. You could also consider talking to your doctor about allergy shots (immunotherapy)

      · avoid breathing dry air. Consider using a humidifier at home and work to increase the moisture in the air

      In general, the things that prevent colds also prevent acute sinusitis. The best advice is to live a healthy lifestyle. Don’t smoke, take regular exercise, enjoy a healthy vitamin-rich diet, get plenty of fresh air, get a good amount of sleep, limit your alcohol intake and avoid stress. This will strengthen your immune system and help to prevent diseases.