Dry drowning is fatal for children, but prevention is also round the corner

The water sports or swimming are one of the favorite activities of children in summers all around the world. But who knows that destiny will lead you where in a couple of minutes. One such unpleasant incidents happens in Florida leading to death of a 4-years old. The incident happened to Elianna Grace, a child, aged 4 years, was hospitalized a few days back having symptoms of “dry drowning.” The accident has spread a wave of fear among parents and raised the concerns about child safety for children playing in the pools or other water sports premises.

Elianna was brought to the hospital by her mother Lacey as she knows about death of children after swallowing water. She told that she came to know about the death of a 4-year old Frankie Delgado last year in Texas. Luckily, dry drowning is a rare phenomena and the symptoms in children who suffered from dry drowning, alerts the parents about seeking medical help. Discussed below are few facts regarding dry drowning in children.

What is dry drowning?

The term dry drowning is a general term used to cover different scenarios that include drowning or situations in which a person is about to drown. Another term used i.e. Second drowning, which occurs in children of Texas and Florida, is concerned to ingestion of water during swimming or other water activities. This small amount of ingested water via throat causes spasms of the airways.

This spasm builds a large negative pressure in contrast to normal lungs function. This large pressure causes the build up of proteins and fluids and can damage the lungs. This results in difficulty to breath for children due to blockage of the air passage. The mechanism of exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is suffered badly.

The symptoms occur after 12 to 24 hours of the incident of near drowning. Secondary drowning is usually a rare phenomena. Not many cases have been reported. But it is assumed that centre of disease control news CDC does not track the cases of secondary drowning. It is said that nearly 4000 drowning or near drowning cases happens each year in the United States. According to experts secondary drowning cases are 1% to 5% of the total. The case of Elianna is also one of these. Elliana got a fever during the next 48 hours which may be a sign of lung infection , probably secondary pneumonia. This problem occurs in nearly 10% of the cases. See list of top heart transplant centers in world.

Group of joyful school kids smiling looking to camera at border of swimming pool during practice

Group of joyful school kids smiling looking to camera at border of swimming pool during practice (Credits: iStock GettyImages under standard license)

Symptoms of dry drowning:

Major signs of secondary drowning are having a difficulty in breathing and cough due to the presence of fluid and proteins in the lungs. The children who are not expressive, may be due to a young age or less understanding usually breath in an irregular pattern and have disturbed stomach movement. Along with these symptoms vomiting can also take place, just as happened in case of Frankie in Texas. As mentioned above that intake of oxygen and outward movement of carbon dioxide is disturbed,  so this abnormal concentration of gases in body can lead to a headache.

Children may show a more sleepy behaviour due to increased concentration of carbon dioxide in body or may be gasping for normal breathing. Diarrhoea is also associated with secondary drowning but it is not quite a usual symptom. See well searched list of best liver cancer hospital in the world.

Methods of diagnosis of dry drowning:

Vital signs of a child suffering from dry drowning are abnormal. A child suffering from dry drowning usually seems ill. Crackles in the child’s lung are commonly diagnosed and are confirmed by having a chest X ray of the child. Wet lungs are a common finding by health workers in the suffering child.

The diagnosis may take a couple of days. Therefore, the parents should be ready for additional visits to the emergency department. Parents should have a close observation of child’s health and remain should remain conscious about child’s health progress. Read details about hepatocellular carcinoma symptoms.

Treatment of dry drowning:

Treatment is different in every case and depends on the severity of the symptoms. 100% oxygen through the mask for a short time period is sometimes enough in some cases. Additional pressure is not required in every child in order to expand the lungs. But if a child is critically ill, breathing tubes or ventilators may be required for a certain period of time. A few children may be in a dire need of additional interventions other than ventilator , if the damage is to a large extent in liver. Breathing support can improve the symptoms of dry drowning in children. In case of a secondary infection, some children have to undergo an antibiotic course.

Happy family has fun. Underwater photo. Mother teach to swim and dive baby son in swimming pool. Healthy lifestyle, active parent, people water sport and lessons on beach summer holiday with child.

Happy family has fun. Underwater photo. Mother teach to swim and dive baby son in swimming pool. Healthy lifestyle, active parent, people water sport and lessons on beach summer holiday with child (Credits: iStock Getty Images under Standard License)

Does swimming again is safe for a child after undergoing dry drowning?

Secondary drowning is not a common thing and there are very few chances of its reoccurrence. So the decision of child’s activity regarding water is completely dependent on the health profile of the child. This decision should be taken by a health expert in consideration of its benefits and risks.

Noncardiogenic pulmonary edema is not only results from secondary drowning but it can also happen due to anaesthesia, infections or from several medications. If the child has to undergo any kind of surgery or other serious medical care then parents should mention about the dry drowning. It will be very helpful for health providers in taking precautionary measures. You should also read symptoms of liver cancer in females.

What precautionary measures can be taken?

There are few precautionary measures that can be proved very helpful in preventing water related accidents and injuries.

  • Teach your child about water safety which includes no diving in shallow water areas and make sure the presence of life guards.
  • Make your child to learn swimming as early as possible.
  • Make sure about the safety of pool and go for the properly guarded pools only.
  • Youngsters should be properly educated about swimming risks, when drunk.
  • Be very vigilant about safety of children when playing on bath tubs and water bodies. Never keep your eye off from the child.
  • Warn your children about rough attitude during swimming like head dunking, etc.

It is a reality that like other accidents dry drowning can be prevented if precautionary measures are taken properly by parents. Never ever let your child play alone on water. Be very conscious and attentive about any change in your child’s health or behavior after playing in water.

Conclusively, in my opinion if near drowning thing happens to a child the very first step should be seeking medical care.

Most of the parents thought that there child will scream out for help if something happens like that. But it should be kept in mind that it happens within a few seconds and most of the time its quite silent. May be the drowning will not allow splashing or any other call of help from your child to gain your attention.

It is advised by specialist from child health care department that a water watcher should always be around the children. The water watcher should be an alert and focused person and he should be away from all kind of distractions like music, books or certain unwanted noise. So that he will be able to have his sole attention towards the pool as a life savour in case of any unwanted event.

About Dr. Ayesha Gulzar UK

She lives in Dudley United Kingdom. Education: Degree : Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) Certifications: Registered as Pharmacist with Pharmacy Council of Pakistan. In process of doing OSPAP to be registered with GphC UK.

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