JOPLIN, Mo. - Cold and flu season is here and a lot of people who get sick will reach for over the counter medications. But if you have sick kids, those medications can actually be very dangerous - sometimes leading to overdose.
Coughing, fevers, sore throats, runny and stuffy noses. When the symptoms show up we look for relief. But did you know?
Sarah Dodson, Mercy Nurse Practitioner: "Over the counter cold medicines don't actually treat the they don't treat the disease, they treat the symptoms of a cold."
Sarah Dodson, a nurse practitioner at Mercy hospital, says over the counter medications can be risky, especially for kids 6 and under.
Sarah Dodson, Mercy Nurse Practitioner: "One of the big problems with over the counter medications is that many of those medicines have more than one active ingredient; they treat cough, they help thin mucus, they have fever reducer. So if parents are giving more than one over the counter medication to their child they are potentially are double dosing their child on that medication. "
Mercy Pharmacist Amanda Mayer says the most effective way to treat kids is through homeopathic remedies.
Amanda Mayer, Mercy Pharmacy: "You can do something like a vaporizer to try and break up some of that congestion. Rest, even things like a hard piece of candy could help soothe a sore throat, it's going to be the same effectiveness as actually like a cough drop or something like that."
And things like slushies or warm fluids will soothe a sore throat and make sure your kids stay hydrated.
Sarah Dodson, Mercy Nurse Practitioner: "We want to make sure the child doesn't become dehydrated, if they have a sore throat, often times a child will not continue to drink."
And for infants you have to be extra cautious.
Sarah Dodson, Mercy Nurse Practitioner: "Babies cannot breathe through their mouth for the first few years of their lives so it's very important that you keep their nasal passages clear. You can use some saline mist and a bulb suction, that's very important for parents to do."
It's also important to note that colds and the flu are caused by a virus -- that means they can not be treated with antibiotics, which fight bacterial infections.
Sarah Dodson, Mercy Nurse Practitioner: "If you give someone who has a virus an antibiotic, not only will it not treat the virus, but it can cause increased bacterial resistant to antibiotic which has become a problem lately because the overuse of antibiotics."
For preventative care, Dodson says kids 6 months and older should get their flu shots.