Frequently asked questions

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.

Most people tend to get between 2 and 4 colds per year. Children tend to get colds more often than adults, because they haven’t yet built up immunity.

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.

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.

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, Otrivin® has products specifically formulated for the relief of nasal congestion due to colds.

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

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.

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.

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. The sinuses behind the cheekbones (the largest ones) are the most commonly affected. Sinus infections often follow a cold and can cause pain and pressure in your forehead, eye and jaw area.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

Otrivin® should not be used during pregnancy.

If you are breastfeeding, always consult your doctor before using Otrivin®.

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

Otrivin® products are available across all pharmacies in the Middle East.