Secondary drowning occurs after an individual seems to recover from drowning. The child might go underwater but appears fine even though water has entered the lungs or oxygen has been impaired to a point in which the child manifests life-threatening symptoms as time passes after the initial drowning accident.
It is important to note that secondary drowning can be daunting since it can be missed out and some of the symptoms such as coughing or extreme lethargy might appear normal.
Close look on secondary drowning
Secondary or dry drowning has gained attention due to the number of cases that occurred recently. Generally, once a child goes underwater for any amount of time and has impaired breathing, drowning has occurred. A child might survive drowning, but it is still considered drowning.
In secondary drowning, it becomes evident since most of the symptoms that appear obvious such as tiredness, difficulty breathing or diminished mental status might not manifest until the victim has been rescued. These might manifest secondary to the initial symptoms of the actual drowning.
What happens during drowning?
- The individual ingests water into the lungs which results to inflammation and damage.
- The water that enters the airway causes the airway to spasm, thus cutting off the oxygen supply and impairing the air exchange.
- Water in the lungs and the impaired air exchange can build up and trigger delayed symptoms. This is the reason why the child might appear fine at first and then deteriorate after the incident.
The best protection against secondary drowning is not to allow to child to go underwater. There are also other preventive measures that must be taken into consideration.
Teach the child about water safety
Children should learn water safety and survival skills as early as possible if they are exposed to bodies of water. Remember that it is not too early to start learning water survival skills that can help save lives in the future.
Being familiar with the indications of secondary drowning
- Persistent coughing
- Chest pain
- Extreme lethargy
- Changes in the mental status
- Loss of consciousness
Once a child has any of these symptoms or had a drowning incident, it is vital to consult a doctor or bring the child directly to a healthcare facility for further assessment and monitoring.