Dangers of kids and cold medicines

As fall weather sets in, so do the nagging coughs and head colds that seem to spread so quickly. Before you head to the drug store, listen carefully.

There are concerns being raised about children getting into cough and cold medicines and accidentally overdosing, and the health team at Consumer Reports say the dangers are very real.

A recent study in the journal Pediatrics identified more than 3,200 cases of kids younger than 12 who suffered serious side effects including hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, and even death – many as a result of accidentally ingesting too much cough and cold medicine.

While you should never give cough and cold medicine to kids under four, beyond that, the health team at Consumer Reports says there’s not a lot of evidence they work very well anyway. They suggest trying some home remedies instead.

You want to keep kids hydrated with things like warm drinks, soup, or decaffeinated tea. Those things may loosen congestion and soothe a sore throat.

For kids 1-year-old and over, try adding a bit of honey. Some research has shown honey can be as effective at relieving a cough as some over-the-counter cough drugs.

Kids 5 and older can suck on a sugar-free lozenge or candy, which can reduce the urge to cough and soothe an irritated throat, as can mixing a half teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water for a gargling solution.

If you do have young children at home, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to put medications out of children’s reach and sight. They also say it’s smart to put medications away every time you use them, and never leave them on a kitchen counter or by a sick child’s bedside –– even if you have to give it again in a few hours.

Always lock the cap on a medicine bottle. If the bottle has a locking cap that turns, twist it until you hear the click or cannot twist it anymore.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.

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