Frequently asked questions

A cold and the flu have slightly different symptoms because they are caused by different viruses. However, because of the similarities, it’s often hard to tell if you’re suffering from a cold or the flu. The obvious difference is that flu can cause more severe symptoms.

Cold symptoms often begin with a sore throat and build over one or two days. It typically involves 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, on the other hand, come on more quickly than cold symptoms. Symptoms of flu include fever, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, congestion and cough. Most cold symptoms gradually improve over two to five days, but it's not uncommon to feel run down for a week or more. Flu symptoms normally last between 7-14 days but you may feel unwell for up to 3 weeks.

Adults tend to get between 2 and 4 colds per year, mostly during the winter months when we spend more time indoors around other people. Children tend to get between 7 and 10 colds.

Antibiotics only work against bacteria so they will not work for treating your cold or flu as they are caused by a virus.

Children tend to have 7-10 colds per year, whilst on average an adult has 2 to 4. Cold symptoms in a child may also include a raised temperature (fever).
Children generally 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 another.

Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Colds, however, are caused by viruses, which do not respond to antibiotics.
The doctor is only likely to prescribe antibiotics only if your child has developed a bacterial infection secondary to (on top of) a 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.
In terms of general advice, they should get plenty of rest, and drink lots of fluids.

Cold symptoms can be treated with liquid paracetamol or liquid ibuprofen to ease aches and pains, headaches, and fever. Always check the packaging for the proper doses and age requirements. Otrivin® has products specifically formulated for the relief of nasal congestion due to colds: Otrivin® Junior is suitable for children aged 6-11 years old. Otrivin Saline Plus can be used on infants and children aged over 6 months.

There is currently no vaccine for the common cold. There is a flu vaccine but this does not have any effect on colds, as they are caused by different viruses.

Stopping the spread of germs is one of the best ways to prevent a cold from spreading. Practise good hygiene. That means keeping surfaces clean, including telephones and keyboards. And don’t forget to use a tissue when you sneeze or cough and then throw it out. But most importantly wash your hands often.

There is no cure for the cold or flu. However you can treat the symptoms.
  • drink a lot of fluids
  • relieve a sore throat with lozenges or gargles
  • decongestants can help relieve nasal congestion.
  • saline nasal sprays are a non-medicated option to help with congestion and are suitable for long term use
  • paracetamol or ibuprofen can help bring down a fever or alleviate a headache

In short, no. The only way to catch a cold or flu is by coming into contact with the 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.
No matter what the temperature it is, cold viruses cause colds, flu viruses cause the flu.

Hayfever is an allergic reaction to airborne allergens. Some of the most common allergens include:
  • pollen
  • house dust mites
  • mould
  • pet hair
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 causes the release of chemicals in the body that lead to an allergic reaction.
Symptoms may include:
  • blocked nose
  • runny nose
  • frequent sneezing
  • itchy eyes, nose or throat
  • watery eyes
Avoiding allergens is the best way to reduce the frequency of hayfever symptoms.
  • Check the pollen count and try to avoid outdoor activities if it is a high count.
  • Reduce your exposure to dust and dust mites, animals and animal hair or fur.
  • Splash your eyes often with cold water to flush out any pollen.
Some medications may help the symptoms of hayfever including:
  • Intranasal corticosteroid sprays
  • Non-sedating antihistamine medications
  • Eye drops
  • Decongestant nasal sprays like Otrivin – Otrivin is useful for quick relief of nasal congestion caused by hayfever.
See your GP if your symptoms don't improve or if they're getting worse.

Hayfever usually affects children from the age of seven, and older children and teenagers are more susceptible to the allergy than adults.

Sinusitis is an inflammation or infection of the sinuses. When sinuses are infected and inflamed, the small drainage channels become blocked. Sinus infections often follow a cold and can cause pain and pressure in your forehead, eye and jaw area.

Common symptoms of sinusitis include:
  • green or yellow discharge from the nose
  • pain and tenderness around cheeks, eyes and forehead
  • blocked nose
  • high temperature (fever)
  • headaches
Sinusitis is an inflammation or infection of the sinuses. Sinus infections often follow a :
  • viral infection (such as the common cold)
  • bacterial infection
  • allergies (such as hayfever)
  • irritants (for example, from chlorine in a swimming pool)

As sinusitis is often brought on by a cold or flu virus, preventing infection is one of the best ways to prevent sinusitis. Preventing a cold begins with cleaning your hands regularly, staying fit to help your immune system fight off infection and avoiding crowded places where the risk of catching someone else’s cold may be higher.

Avoiding cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoke may help, as smoke irritates inflamed membranes in your nose and sinuses. Also, if you have allergies, avoid the things that trigger your allergy attacks.

In most cases, sinusitis takes about two-and-a-half weeks to clear up. See your GP if your symptoms don't improve after seven days, if they're getting worse, or if your sinusitis keeps coming back.

See your GP if your symptoms don't improve after seven days, if they're getting worse, or if your sinusitis keeps coming back.

For mild sinusitis, over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can be used to relieve a headache, high temperature and facial pain or tenderness, whilst a decongestant such as Otrivin® can help unblock your nose.

Additionally, there are some simple things you can do at home to help such as regularly using a saline solution to clean out your sinuses and allow them to drain; this technique is known as nasal irrigation.

Other recommendations include applying a warm pack to your face and drinking sufficient fluids.
A bacterial infection can occur on top of the viral infection, in which case antibiotics may be required.

See your GP if your symptoms don't improve after seven days, if they're getting worse, or if your sinusitis keeps coming back.

It is advisable 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
You can also use Otrivin® Clear Seawater and Eucalyptus Nasal Spray. This is a natural alternative to the Otrivin® medicated range. It contains a unique seawater formulation that draws out congestion for fast, effective relief, naturally.See your GP if your symptoms don't improve after seven days, if they're getting worse, or if your sinusitis keeps coming back

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.
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.

Otrivin® Clear Saline Plus is a non-medicated solution to naturally clear and moisturise the nose. It is suitable for the whole family, even during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

It is not recommended to use any of the medicated products within the Otrivin® range or Otrivin® Clear Seawater & Eucalyptus when you are pregnant. If you are feeling a bit blocked up, speak to your pharmacist or doctor who may be able to recommend a suitable treatment for you.

Otrivin® Clear Saline Plus is a non-medicated solution to naturally clear and moisturise the nose. It is suitable for the whole family, even during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

It is not recommended to use any of the medicated products within the Otrivin® range or Otrivin® Clear Seawater & Eucalyptus if you are breastfeeding without advice from a doctor.

If you are feeling a bit blocked up, speak to your pharmacist or doctor who may be able to recommend a suitable treatment for you.

Otrivin® can be used in combination with single ingredient antihistamine products. However, we would recommend that you speak to your pharmacist or doctor prior to using Otrivin® alongside any concurrent medication.

  • Otrivin® Clear Saline Plus is a non-medicated solution to naturally clear and moisturise the nose. It is suitable for infants over 6 months, children, adolescents and adults.
  • Otrivin® Junior can be used by children aged 6-11 years, upon the advice of a healthcare professional.
  • Otrivin® Clear Seawater & Eucalyptus can be used adults and children over 6 years of age.
  • Otrivin® Adult can be used by adults and adolescents over 12 years of age.
The following Otrivin® products are not to be used continuously for more than 3 consecutive days, unless under medical advice:
  • Otrivin® Adult Nasal Spray
  • Otrivin® Adult Nasal Drops
  • Otrivin® Plus Nasal Spray
  • Otrivin® Menthol Nasal Spray
  • Otrivin® Junior Nasal Spray
  • Otrivin® Junior Nasal Drops
The following Otrivin® products are non-medicated and are therefore suitable for long term use:
  • Otrivin® Clear Saline Plus
  • Otrivin® Clear Seawater & Eucalyptus Nasal Spray

Otrivin® range of products are available from your pharmacy