Dangers of “Dry Drowning”

PITETTI_RAYMOND_MD_PD_20120613_Summer days call for vacations to the beach, dips in the pool, and trips to the playground. Children will spend the next few months enjoying the beautiful weather, and here at Children’s, we want to warn you about a safety concern that has recently hit national headlines. In current months, multiple cases of “dry drowning” have occurred that have vastly harmed young children. We are here to inform parents of possible signs and ways to prevent it while your child goes for a swim.

Drowning is the leading cause of death for young children, so keep an eye out near any body of water. There are two different forms of “dry drowning,” one without fluid in the lungs and one with. Water inhaled during the first form does not reach the lungs but causes the larynx, the air passage to the lungs, to shut as a protective response. The deprivation of oxygen from the body causes the child to suffocate immediately.

The second scenario, known as secondary drowning, occurs when small amounts of water are inhaled into the lungs. Irritation and inflammation of the lungs causes trouble breathing and can progress into total cessation of breathing or cardiac arrest. Symptoms for secondary drowning show up within an hour to 24 hours of the incident. Signs your child may be suffering are initially subtle but later progress to coughing, pain, fatigue, and change of behavior. Supportive care for the lungs is the main treatment for secondary drowning, but children may require further breathing assistance.

Approximately 5,000 children die from drowning each year. Please make sure your child is under proper subversion near any body of water. From the ocean to the bath tub, always watch your child and help lower the drowning rate today.