Dry Drowning

Have you ever heard the terms “dry drowning” or “secondary drowning” before? These two terms are often used interchangeably and are also called submersion injuries, but they are actually two different conditions.

Although they can both cause trouble breathing and in some cases death, in dry drowning someone takes a small amount of water in through their mouth or nose causing the airway to spasm and close up.

In secondary drowning a little water gets into the lungs and causes the lungs to swell making it almost impossible for the lungs to transfer the carbon dioxide to oxygen and back again.

Dry drowning usually occurs shortly after your child gets out of the water but with secondary drowning symptoms can be up to a 24 hours delay.

Although both of these types of drowning are scary, they are rare. Despite this if you are going to be spending time at the beach or pool you should know how to recognize it. You will see signs that this is happening no matter what the age of your child is.

If there is ever a time where your child is pulled from the water you should seek medical attention, even if it is only the pediatrician.

Having difficulty breathing is a sign that a child needs immediate medical care. It’s characterized by rapid, shallow breathing, the nostrils flare and you will be able to see the child’s ribs pr the gap above their collarbone when they breathe.

If your child was just playing in the water and full of energy and then all of sudden they are so tired they can’t stay awake this could be because they are not getting enough oxygen. Make sure you don’t put them to bed until you get permission from a physician to do so.

A persistent cough associated with difficulty in breathing needs to be evaluated.

Vomiting is an indicator of stress on the body and can be the result of the lack of oxygen. If this is persistent check with a physician.

Altered consciousness, also caused by a lack of oxygen. Your child may be confused or act strange.

If you think your child may be experiencing dry or second drowning, call your pediatrician. If they are having a bad time breathing take them to the nearest emergency room. Treatment will vary from simple observation to giving oxygen to even intubating the child in order that they can breathe.

In order to prevent this from happening make sure you child takes swimming lessons so they know how to swim. You should also not let your child go swimming without someone to watch them. If a child is not very adept at swimming make sure they wear some kind of floatation device.