The media has widely spread stories of cases of dry drowning in recent months, but how much of it is true and how much is urban legend? While rare, there have been cases of children who have suffered from respiratory distress hours after being in the water. Medco ER & Urgent Care of Plano, TX, is the first line of defense in diagnosing and treating conditions caused by water aspiration, commonly called “dry drowning.”
What is dry drowning?
Dry drowning is an informal expression that is used outside of the medical profession. While medical professionals take issue with the term “dry drowning,” there can be instances of respiratory distress or, in extreme cases, respiratory failure that occurs after the lungs have struggled for some time after inhaling water.1
Drowning refers to a lack of oxygen in the lungs from being in or under the water. That’s why dry drowning is not a recognized medical term. It is not related to drowning. Instead, it refers to an inflammation of the lungs that is a secondary cause of inhaling water.
“What is commonly considered dry drowning is actually a very rare occurrence,” said Medco ER & Urgent Care’s Medical Director, Dr. Nasir Khan. “Most children do cough and sputter when in the water because water goes up their noses or they swallow or inhale water. That’s a normal part of being in the water and is usually not a cause for undue concern.”
What are the symptoms of dry drowning?
- Skin discoloration
- Fast breathing
- Hard pulling to breathe
- Foaming at the mouth
Warning Signs – Act Fast
Any kind of respiratory dysfunction should be checked out by a medical professional. “If your child has any kind of trouble breathing or a cough, chest pain, vomiting or fever—regardless of how long ago he or she was in the water—come in to Medco ER right away to be checked out by one of our board-certified physicians,” said Dr. Khan.
Also, if your child has had a near-drowning incident, he or she should be taken to the ER to be checked out.
While it is impossible to make sure your child hasn’t inhaled any water while swimming, there are some things you can do to make sure he or she is as safe as possible.
- For pools, make sure there are fences and barriers to keep kids out of the pool when not supervised.
- When you are supervising your child in the pool or lake, be 100% present with no cell phone, books or conversations to distract you.
- Supervisors should be designated alcohol-free.
- Make sure your child has had swimming lessons as early as possible and knows how to float on their back.
- Don’t trust floating devices.
- Be close enough to touch when young children are in the water.
- Take frequent breaks with your child to help you stay alert.
- Become trained in CPR.
Get help at Medco ER & Urgent Care
If you suspect your child is experiencing some respiratory reactions from being in the water, come to Medco ER & Urgent Care right away. We’re open 24/7 every day of the year to help your child when delayed symptoms indicate something is not quite right. We’ll work to make sure your son or daughter is breathing easier again.
- Plano location:
3960 Legacy Drive, Plano TX 75023 (on the corner of Legacy and Coit Road)
Call us @ 469-392-4000