Family Magazine

Secondary and Dry Drowning in Kids – Causes, Symptoms and Precautions

By Sangeetha

Have you heard of kids "drowning" hours after a swimming session?

Do you know that such type of a delayed drowning can sometimes put the life of your kid at stake?

Secondary and Dry Drowning in Kids – Causes, Symptoms and Precautions

Such rare incidents are due to dry drowning or secondary drowning.

Read on to know more.

Most kids love to play in water. Some may be a pro in the pool, while others prefer the warm sunny beaches. Some may be terrified of the pool and beach, but would be happy in a small tub of water, in the safety of their own home.

So the first time I decided to take my kiddo to the pool, like most mommies nowadays, I turned to the Internet for advice. That's when I heard about the horrors of secondary and dry drowning. Regardless to say, I was petrified.

Note: Don't let it scare you into imposing a water ban on your kiddo

Understanding the terms dry drowning and secondary drowning:

Keep in mind that these two terms are not the same. They are often confused, but they are in fact different conditions. But the symptoms in both cases can be the same.

What is dry drowning?

In dry drowning, the vocal chords spasm due to inhalation of water and swell up leading to the blockage of air to the lungs which results in difficulty in breathing. In this case the water doesn't enter the lungs.

Dry drowning usually happens soon after the child is taken from water.

What is secondary drowning?

Secondary drowning occurs when the water enters the lung, which inhibits their ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide efficiently and or due to the debris and chemicals from the water injuring the lungs causing fluid build-up in the lung.

In case of Secondary drowning child drowns hours after swimming. It can take up to 24 hours for the secondary drowning symptoms to show up.

But in both cases the child will have difficulty in breathing and in rare cases this can lead to death.

It does sound scary doesn't it? Well, while it can be serious, this is extremely rare. And like in most cases, if you keep an eye out for the symptoms, you can prevent the worst.

6 Warnings signs of secondary drowning or dry drowning in kids:

So how do you know if you need to rush your kid to the hospital?

Watch out your kid after he/she is done with a swim in the pool or beach. If one or more of these warning signs are there, understand that it may be a symptom of dry or secondary drowning. Give immediate medical attention.

#1. Fatigue:

Most kids are powerhouses. With their energy levels, they can power up a whole city. But when they look tired than usual, it could mean something is not quite right. Fatigue can set in due to the depleting oxygen levels in the body.

#2. Persistent Cough:

Keep an eye out for a rattling cough.

#3. Paleness, blue or grey lips:

The above symptoms are also signs of depleting oxygen levels in the body. So if you see these symptoms, do not hesitate to seek medical attention.

#4. Laboured breathing:

If your child is really struggling to breathe and you can see the ribs and collarbone protruding every time he takes a breath and the breathing rhythm is really fast, it could be yet another symptom of dry or secondary drowning.

#5. Chest pain:

Some kids also develop a chest pain.

#6. Change in mannerism

If your child appears irritable, exhibits signs of forgetfulness or looks lethargic - it could be a change brought on by the dip in oxygen levels. Another sign that you need to seek help.

#7. Vomiting

Throwing up after a swim in the pool or beach can mean that your body is stressed due to lack of oxygen or inflammation.

Preventive measures to avoid dry drowning in kids:

After knowing about dry and secondary drowning, I almost swore that I would never take my child to the pool.

Then I thought, if it is so bad, then how come a lot of moms take their babies to the pool and you have those videos about 6 month olds swimming, is that fake?

Knowing how to prevent such incidence is what is important.

So take the below mentioned safety measures to ensure that this doesn't happen to our kids.

Be alert when your tot is in the water, nothing can compensate your supervision. When there are many people, do not assume that someone will be watching, instead if you are in a group; assign a person for every kid.

Make sure you adhere to safety guidelines at the pool or beach. They are there for a reason, so if it says, not to let a child below a certain age into the water, then there are no two ways about it.

Make sure the elder kids don't dunk the younger ones under water while playing.

Avoid leaving buckets full in the bathroom, and if you have to, ensure that the doors are closed.

If your kid has been rescued from drowning; give him a medical checkup as soon as possible.
You have saved him from drowning in water, but chances are that he has inhaled some water or water has entered into his lungs and can lead to dry or secondary drowning.

Observe for any of the warning signs above if they had a trouble in the water.

Children who know swimming are less likely to meet with such incidence. So teach your kids how to swim. You can start giving swimming lessons once he/she is 4 years old.

Hope this article on secondary drowning and dry drowning in kids was informative. Now you know what to look out for, so you can ensure that your little one can still have fun in water.

In case I have missed anything, please do share.

Be safe and keep swimming!

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