Be careful how you swat when the kids get those bugs

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Kids can be real sponges when it comes to soaking up the bugs that turn into colds. While you might know how to treat them, be careful with those meds.

Medicine is meant to heal but new research shows that some drugs intended to help kids feel better can also harm them instead. The dosage is critical.

Consumer Reports’ Lisa Gill reviewed some of the medications and said, “These are generally safe when used as directed. But many of the problems happen when kids get into these medications on their own."

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 of the problems resulted from accidentally ingesting too much cough and cold medicine.

“They can be tempting. Some might be colorful, some might be tasty. The really important thing is that they're kept away from kids."

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 which some research has shown can be as effective at relieving a cough as some over-the-counter cough drugs.

Kids five and older can suck on a sugar-free lozenge or candy which can reduce the urge to cough and soothe an irritated throat.

One more tip: mix a half teaspoon of salt in a cup of water and gargle.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you need to make sure you put medications away – out of the sight and reach of children.

It's smart to put them away every time you use them and never leave them out on a kitchencounter or at a sick child's bedside, even if you have to give it again in a few hours.

And 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 any more.