You may have heard recent news stories about the dangers of “dry drowning” for children. Though medical professionals typically do not use the term, the public uses “dry drowning” to describe a range of near-drowning scenarios that can happen after a child leaves the water. Here’s what you should know about this condition to protect your child during and after a swim.
What is dry drowning?
“Dry drowning” refers to any near-drowning or unusual drowning scenario where water is inhaled and causes spasms in the airways. When a child is swimming, it’s common for him or her to inhale water. In rare instances, this inhaled water can provoke a spasm of the airways and vocal cords. These spasms can cause proteins and fluids to build up in the lungs and impair breathing. This process progresses over time, with some children not showing any symptoms until 12 to 24 hours after swimming.
What are the signs of dry drowning?
If your child has recently inhaled a significant amount of water in the bath or pool, watch for any of these signs:
- Difficulty breathing
- Sudden decrease in energy levels
- Chest pain