Drowning usually refers to a submerged individual’s inability to breathe underwater, which can happen even if the water is a few inches deep. However, a phenomenon known as “dry drowning” is just as dangerous because it can cause complications similar to drowning that can occur long after the victim leaves the pool, beach or river.
How it happens
Dry drowning occurs when water or fluid enters a person’s larynx and vocal cords, which can cause them to spasm and close up. The symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
Dry drowning can occur when an individual is dunked in a pool or hit by an unexpected wave. Water does not reach the lungs, but it can still result in the brain not receiving enough oxygen.
What to do when dry drowning is suspected
Individuals suffering from breathing problems after exiting the water should seek medical help if the symptoms do not subside within 24 hours. Injured victims may need X-rays, an IV or admittance to a hospital for observation.
Watch out for symptoms
Parents or guardians should always monitor their children when around water, not just to watch out for drowning but also to notice if they swallow water or if “it goes down the wrong pipe.” If dry drowning is suspected, medical attention should be sought right away.