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Dry and Secondary Drowning: be on the Lookout for Symptoms


It seems cold outside, and it is. But it won’t be for very long. Summer will be here before you know it, and with it will come the summer heat and summer activities. One of those activities is fun in the swimming pool and the beach.

With water comes the risk of drowning. We think that we would be able to recognize someone who is drowning, but in reality, drowning looks much different than what you may think it looks like. If you’re responsible for pool safety for your kids or their friends, it’s important that you be able to identify what some uncommon types of drowning look like.

Dry Drowning

Sometimes you don’t drown in the water, but after you’ve gotten out of it. This sounds strange, but it’s called “dry drowning.” This happens when water gets into the victim’s nose or mouth, closing off the vocal cords. This closing off can give the feeling of drowning, but actually no water has entered the lungs the way it would with traditional drowning.

In reaction to the event, and after the person seems fine, the body sends fluid to the lungs. This is exactly what a pulmonary edema is. In some cases, symptoms don’t start for hours—or even days—after the incident, which is why anybody who has struggled in the water needs to be monitored carefully.

Secondary Drowning

Someone can also suffer what is known as secondary drowning. Like with dry drowning, the person may seem fine after the drowning event. Unlike dry drowning, with secondary drowning, water does enter the lungs. The water that gets into the lungs washes away the natural lubricant that we all have in our lungs.

Because the lubricant is gone, and the lungs are sticking together, the body sends fluid to the lungs. Just like with dry drowning, the excess fluids create pulmonary edema, which can lead to death. Symptoms may have up to 24 hours to show themselves.

When to Seek Help

Certainly, every time your child ingests water, there is no need to get emergency attention. The key is to monitor a child’s respiration for hours or days after the near drowning event. If a child seems to have congestion, or problems breathing easily, medical attention may be needed.

While the child is in the water, these events may not seem as serious as traditional drowning. The child may come up coughing, but otherwise seem fine. The child may just have ingested a lot of water, and may have some discomfort. But in all cases, anybody responsible for pool safety should be careful. Don’t assume because a child comes up seeming “fine” that everything is actually fine.

Stay safe in the water and around your own home. Call the Clinton personal injury attorneys at Fox, Farley, Willis & Burnette, today.



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