Dry drowning occurs when the lungs are filled with a small amount of water. When the lungs are filled with water, it results in laryngospasms, which restricts amount of water aspirated into the lungs. When the amount of water which is aspirated (remove as if by suction) into the lungs is minimized or restricted, the immediate event which may follow is respiratory arrest. This disturbs the supply of oxygen in the blood, followed by cardiac arrest and ultimately to brain death. This article gives some information about dry drowning in children.
As the name suggests, it is associated with a delayed effect of a small amount of water in the lungs and not by immediate immersion. It is more severe in kids, given its symptoms, which are not easily diagnosable; due to this, the treatment is always delayed, making the condition to worsen over time.
If a child has been known to swallow water while swimming or falling in a pool, temporarily ducked or after being knocked by a wave, these are the symptoms which parents must watch out for.
- Normally, when kids tend to swallow some amount of water (unintentionally), they generally cough, rub their eyes, or cry. The most prominent sign, which should not be ignored is a cough, which does not seem to subside even after 20-30 minutes.
- Difficulty in breathing or experiencing a pain while breathing, may also indicate this condition.
- Chest pain is something, which is common among adults, but when it occurs in kids, there is a reason to worry about. If they complain of chest pain along with the above symptoms, then it indicates this problem.
- If parents notice a sudden change in the mood or mental status of their child after an incident of accidental water intake, then they have enough reasons to be alarmed. Mental changes, such as confusion, difficulty in deciphering what has been said or told, and problems in expressing themselves, all indicate the above condition.
- A child who suffers from this condition may exhibit an abnormal lack of energy, extreme tiredness, or increased agitation. The skin may appear sweaty, pale, or blue/grayish in color. These indicate a poor supply of oxygenated blood in the body.
Treating the Condition
It is very strongly recommended for parents to take their child to a doctor soon after the onset of such symptoms which might occur after an event of unintended swallowing of water. This is something which cannot and should not be treated at home or left unattended to, assuming that it would subside over time. Hasty action to initiate the treatment would let the doctors remove the water from the lungs and resupply oxygen, which would help in reassuming the breathing process.
This condition is severe because of its slow acting nature. A child who might have faced accidental swallowing of water, may behave normally in most cases. In the mean time, the small amount of water, which might have made its way into the lungs would start the damage in a gradual manner, and the victim may be completely unaware of it. So, the best method to prevent this problem from affecting kids is to keep a close watch on the little ones, after they are done with their swimming and other activities, which may involve water. It is also wise to teach your kids about all the safety measures, which should be taken while swimming. Apart from swimming, there might be other cases wherein kids may swallow a large amount of water (accidentally). So, parents should advice them to inform about any such incident.
Dry drowning is one of the most talked about issues among parents. One may never know when it will strike and in what circumstances. Do not hesitate to call 911 or call for emergency medical aid on the occurrence of any of the symptoms described above. Awareness of parents about the prevention and particularly about the symptoms can keep things from getting critical.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.