What is Dry Drowning

What is Dry Drowning?

Sunshine, summertime – it’s what many of us in the Northern Hemisphere dream of through the long winter.


And as the temperatures rise, many of us are heading off to the beach, the lake, or camping out by the pool to soak up some sun and be close to cool relief.


The fact is, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an average of ten people die from drowning every single day. Among other causes of accidental death in the United States, it comes in fifth, so by no means is it of low concern.


Some claim dry drowning is a myth

Some researchers have concluded that “dry drowning” is not medically proven, however there are concerning incidents that point to its existence; case in point: a four-year-old child in the state of Texas died nearly a week after he went swimming. In this case, his family was told by the hospital that tried to revive him that his lungs were full of fluid. This is what’s known as secondary drowning, or “dry drowning”.


… but it does happen!

Dry drowning occurs when an individual (usually a small child) inhales small amounts of water through the nose or mouth, and aspirates it into the lungs. The symptoms may not occur right away, sometimes taking a week or more to resolve into concerning pain or discomfort, but in spite of the fact that it happens, some researchers still say it is not medically proven.


Dry drowning 101

Here are some dry drowning facts and information, in the hopes that yet another tragedy may be averted:


What is dry drowning?

Also known as secondary drowning, it happens when a person has a near-drowning episode. Water enters the lungs through the nose or mouth, causing the lungs to spasm and then fill up with fluid.


What are the symptoms of dry drowning?

Symptoms of dry drowning include vomiting, stomach cramping, coughing, fever, difficulty taking a breath, extreme fatigue, mood swings, and chest pain. Symptoms may not appear for 24 hours or more, making it difficult for the individual to pinpoint a cause.


Is dry drowning a real thing?

While there are some researchers who deny the existence of secondary drowning, the act of water entering the lungs does indeed irritate the lining of the lungs, causing fluid to build up – a condition called pulmonary edema, which is a very real, very serious condition. While some physicians say that the term dry drowning should not be used, in essence it is very similar to a drowning incident, and is caused by the aspiration of water into the lungs, so there is a direct correlation.


Why is dry drowning still diagnosed?

Other terms for dry drowning include passive drowning, secondary drowning, near-drowning, or silent drowning. Though it only accounts for 1% - 2% of all reported drowning incidents, it is still a serious concern, despite what some researchers say. The World Health Organization describes two types of drowning: wet and dry. This suggests that on the world stage, it is well recognized as a threat, and should be treated as such.


What is the best way to prevent drowning of any kind?

Anybody who spends time around water should learn how to swim. It’s also important to know how to assist somebody who is drowning, and how to perform CPR. Not every body of water or pool will have a lifeguard on hand to help. Appoint a designated person to watch over people who are in the water. That person should make sure their attention is always on the water, and not on something else. Constant adult supervision is important anytime children are present, and even those with strong swimming skills should wear an inflatable life jacket when swimming in open water.


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