Can children and adults really suffer fatal injuries as a result of “dry drowning” or “secondary drowning” in San Marcos this summer? Parents often hear about—and worry about—the risks of dry drowning, yet according to a recent article in TribLive, physicians say that there are many misconceptions about dry drowning and secondary drowning that need to be cleared up. These terms suggest that they refer to medical conditions, when in fact they often are used in many different scenarios in which people are suffering from a variety of medical conditions. As such, parents do not need to worry about dry drowning, but they do need to be aware of other medical conditions that can arise when a child is involved in a drowning accident.
Dry Drowning is Not Real, But Other Medical Conditions are
According to Dr. Peter Wernicki, who is a member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, the terms ‘dry drowning’ and ‘secondary drowning’ are ones that have “totally been over-hyped by social media and people who are not knowledgeable on the subject.” He went on to emphasize that there is a common misconception that kids get rescued from the water or accidentally swallow or inhale water in the ocean or in a pool, and then suddenly—without warning—the child stops breathing hours or days later. As Wernicki underscores, “that just doesn’t happen.” Indeed, he clarified, “a child doesn’t act fine for eight hours and then die from drowning.”
Yet this does not mean that a near-drowning incident can not result in other serious medical conditions that can in fact lead to death if left untreated. For instance, kids (as well as adults) who are involved in near-drowning incidents can contract aspiration pneumonia. This is an “infection that develops from water trapped in the lungs.” Yet, as Wernicki highlights, this is not a situation that could be described as drowning, and it is also very rare. Other serious infections and conditions can also happen after a near-drowning accident, but they have warning signs, and they simply should not be classified as dry drowning or secondary drowning given that each is distinct.
Signs of Aspiration Pneumonia and Other Conditions Resulting from a Near-Drowning Incident
Recognizing that the terms ‘dry drowning’ and ‘secondary drowning’ have become misleading, the American Red Cross has recommended that healthcare providers stop using them. Parents often bring their children to the doctor after the child has ingested water while swimming, worrying that the child could die as a result of dry drowning. Yet doctors underscore that this is not time well spent. Kids who do have aspiration pneumonia and other conditions show signs like “coughing and labored breathing many hours after leaving the water,” which means that parents would know if there was a problem.
Instead of spending time seeking treatment for kids with no symptoms, pediatricians recommend that parents spend time on drowning prevention methods, including swimming lessons and CPR training.
Just because dry drowning is not a real condition does not mean that parents should not be vigilant about signs of harm after a near-drowning accident. The following are symptoms that may require medical attention:
- Increasingly rapid breathing;
- Labored breathing;
- Lethargy; and
- Any general signs that the child is not well.
Contact a San Marcos Drowning Accident Lawyer
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(image courtesy of Ryan Wilson)