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Are Your Children At Risk of Dry Drowning?

By Sara Butler

It’s summer, which means it’s time to go to the beach or to the pool and let your kids turn into tadpoles! While every parent worries about their child drowning in the water, there is a new way to drown that may not be on every parent’s radar: A phenomenon called dry drowning. Here’s what you need to know about this condition and how you can keep your children safe.

The Facts of Drowning

According to the National Institutes of Health, 3,500 people die every year from unintentional drowning – and 1 out of every 5 of those people is a child under 14. But to understand drowning fully, you first must understand the terminology.

Wet drowning occurs when a person is submerged under water. The throat muscles spasm and allow water to enter the lungs, so they drown. In dry drowning, there is a muscle spasm in the throat, too, but the muscles at the very top of the throat don’t relax, so less water enters the lungs. In both scenarios, if there’s not medical intervention, then death will occur. Secondary drowning is what happens when a person dies after inhaling some water – and it usually occurs within 24 hours.

What to Look For

If your family is at the pool or beach and your child inhales just a little bit of water, you need to be on the lookout for a few symptoms:

  • A cough that develops a few hours after swimming
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Chest pain

What may be happening is that the lungs are swelling with water from that trapped during swimming, and fluids from the child’s own body. This excess liquid keeps the lungs from processing oxygen correctly. That leads to a drop in oxygen levels, which then causes the heart to slow and eventually stop, resulting in cardiac arrest.

If you see any of the above symptoms, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry and get medical attention immediately for your child.

A Few Precautions

It will also pay to watch your children when they’re swimming. Drowning is the second most common cause of unintentional injury and death for children under the age of 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Make sure if you have a pool at home that a fence is installed to help reduce drowning risk. And always supervise children while they’re swimming.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Riverside, Calif. 


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