Friday, June 6, 2008

Dry Drowning in the News

Many of you may have heard of the dry drowning case in South Carolina. A 10-year-old died more than an hour after he had gone swimming. So what do parents need to know when it comes to dry drowning?

What it is:
Dry drowning occurs after removal from water when there is a small amount of water still present in the lungs. This can cause result in laryngospasms reflex- a spasm of the vocal cords. Laryngospasms can then cause asphyxiation, leading to an inadequate supply of oxygen in the blood, cardiac arrest, and eventually death.

When it occurs:
Usually within an hour to 24 hours of swimming.

Are some children more likely to dry drown?
Yes. Dry drowning is more likely of child is not a good swimmer or a first-time swimmer and if the child has underlying lung problems like asthma.

What should parents look for?
After swimming, if the child has swallowed a lot of water or had an accident at the pool, keep an eye out for these signs:
- persistent coughing or pain in chest
- difficulty breathing
- extreme tiredness
- changes in behavior
If a child coughs for a minute, then calms down -- that is much different than if the child keeps coughing or complaining of pain.

What do I do if I suspect dry drowning?
Call your doctor or bring the child to an emergency room if there are any signs of dry drowning following a swimming incident. If it is caught early, dry drowning can be treated by inserting a breathing tube and having oxygen supplied under pressure to the lungs.

Water safety is a big topic in summer months. According to the CDC, 4,000 people drown each year and 1,400 of these are children. Always watch kids at all times when in the water and enjoy your time safely!

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