Drowning is an incident most often associated with water, bringing to mind scenes of flailing limbs and desperate gasps for air. Yet there is a less understood and often overlooked form of drowning, known as dry drowning, that is every bit as serious. Dry drowning can strike unsuspectingly, long after someone has left the water, leading to severe complications if not treated promptly.
Here is what you need to know if you suspect dry drowning.
Understanding dry drowning
Dry drowning happens when water or other fluids enter the airway, primarily the larynx or vocal cords, causing them to spasm and close up. This closure prevents oxygen from reaching the lungs, leading to difficulties in breathing. It is “dry” because no water reaches the lungs in this situation.
This condition can occur several hours after the individual leaves the water. Symptoms may include coughing, chest pain, difficulty breathing, extreme fatigue and changes in behavior, such as unusual irritability or lethargy in children.
Knowing when to seek help
If someone exhibits symptoms of dry drowning, seek immediate medical attention. The condition can quickly become life-threatening, so do not wait to see if symptoms improve.
Preventing dry drowning
Prevention of dry drowning largely involves vigilant supervision when children or weak swimmers are in or around water. Training in swimming and water safety can also significantly reduce the risk.
Dealing with recovery and aftercare
With immediate treatment, most people recover completely from dry drowning. It is essential, however, to monitor anyone who has experienced dry drowning for any lingering or recurring symptoms, as these may indicate a need for further medical attention.
Knowing the symptoms of dry drowning can help individuals be safer when enjoying time in or around water.