We all know what it looks like when someone is actually inside water and drowning and the right steps to prevent such mishaps. Unfortunately, the danger of drowning does not always end when you exit out of the water. Several people especially kids are at a greater risk of experiencing an ailment called dry drowning.

Such was the case with a 4 year old, Elianna Grace who accidentally swallowed water when playing in the pool. She threw up immediately and recovered fine shortly. However, after 2 days Elianna was struck by a fever that did not give in. And, that’s when after her mother read about dry drowning and decided to take her to the hospital. There Elianna was given oxygen. Moreover, the lung X-rays showed that her lungs are infected.

Here’s all you need to know about dry drowning, how to spot signs of it and prevent it.

What is Dry Drowning?

Dry drowning happens when water is ingested into your lungs resulting in inflammation. The chemicals and chlorine present in the pool water also find their way into the lungs. As a result, this makes it hard for the body to transfer oxygen to carbon-dioxide and also clogs the airway.

While 95% of children are fine after accidentally slipping underwater, it’s important to be watchful and aware of dry drowning symptoms that can happen when the person appears safe and dry. Dry drowning is a medical emergency that needs prompt attention.

Dry Drowning and Secondary Drowning

Both these terms are informally used to describe the respiratory distress after hours or longer following submersion in water. In the medical field doctors don’t really used these terms for their diagnosis.

However secondary drowning is simply delayed effects of drowning and refers to a person developing shortness of breath after the incident. On the other hand, dry drowning usually refers to the person swallowing a lot of water that makes its way into the lungs and causing airways to spasm  or possibly close later on. Both these terms are similar in many ways and can be used interchangeably at times.

Symptoms of Dry Drowning

You can notice symptoms of dry drowning within an hour up to 24-hours or more after getting out of water.

  • Difficulty speaking or breathing resulting in laryngospasm, a condition where the vocal cords close over the windpipe
  • Irritability or Unusual Behaviour
  • Coughing
  • Vommitting
  • Chest Pain
  • Low Energy
  • Unusual Sleepiness after the incident

Dry Drowning- Treatment

If you see any of the above symptoms, it’s vital to seek medical assistance without any delay. Treatment may involve resuscitation due to lack of oxygen in order to stabilize breathing. After stabilizing the breathing you need to get the chest x-ray done to rule out water in the lungs and bacterial infections like pneumonia.O

How to Prevent Dry Drowning

Just like preventing drowning, you can also take a few measures to keep your children safe from dry or secondary drowning while they swim.

Stay alert at all times and don’t let little ones especially less than 2 to 3 years old inside water as it can be too much for their lungs. Enrol them in swimming lessons early so that they know what is safe and what is not. Ensure that they don’t swim alone and there are lifeguards around.

If anybody coughs, sputters, turns blue after swimming, make sure to watch them. If they seem to have a troubled breathing or any other signs of distress, just make sure that you contact your physician.

The good news is that dry drowning is a rare scenario. So, as long as you keep an eye and take note of unusual symptoms, you can stay protected.