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What Is Dry Drowning?

When a child or adult falls into water, it is human nature to inhale or evaporate the water in a state of panic. Once a person is rescued from the water, most of us assume that the danger has been averted.

But after ingesting water through the nose or through the mouth, the bronchial muscles may be forced to protect the lungs. Some people have referred to this condition as "drowning," even though it is not a medical term or a diagnosis. Doctors call it “post-diving syndrome” and although it is rare, it does occur.

Dry drowning occurs mainly in children. Although 95% of children accidentally slip under an underwater slide, it is important to be alert and aware of the signs of drowning that can occur when the child appears to be safe. And dry. Dry drowning is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.

Dry drowning vs. secondary drowning

Injuries that occur underwater result in dry drowning and secondary drowning. Dry drowning occurs less than an hour after inhaling water. However, secondary, also unusual, drowning can occur up to 48 hours after the water accident.

Secondary drowning due to the accumulation of water in the lungs. It's more like what we think of a "real" bay, because it means your lungs fill with water. So the water has a hard time breathing. Dry drowning and secondary drowning are serious medical conditions that can be fatal.

Symptoms of dry drowning

You should notice the warning signs of dry drowning within an hour of getting out of the water.

Dry drowning, which causes the vocal cords to close above the trachea. This effect is called laryngospasm. Laryngospasm may be mild, make breathing difficult or difficult, and prevent oxygen from entering or leaving the lungs.

Symptoms to watch for after a water incident include:

  • difficulty breathing or speaking
  • irritability or unusual behavior
  • coughing
  • chest pain
  • low energy or sleepiness after a water incident

If your baby has trouble breathing, he may not be able to speak or express his symptoms. Therefore, after being afraid of water, it is important to carefully observe the baby to make sure that he is breathing freely.

Treatment for dry drowning

If you notice signs of dry drowning, you must call emergency medical care. Call 911 immediately.

Until then, try to keep yourself or your baby calm during laryngospasm. Staying calm can help the bronchial muscles relax faster.

As soon as help arrives, they will carry out treatment on the spot. This can lead to resuscitation if a person becomes obsolete due to lack of oxygen.


Once the person has stabilized, they will be taken to the hospital for observation. Symptoms of dry drowning after a diving episode require medical examination to ensure regular breathing is restored and to rule out other conditions such as secondary drowning or bacterial pneumonia. A chest X-ray or examination by a pulmonology specialist may be needed to rule out water in the lungs.

Preventing dry drowning

Dry drowning is a form of drowning that is the leading cause of death for young children. However, you can minimize the chance of drowning by doing your best to completely prevent water accidents.

  • In the case of children 2 years old and younger, any water submersion is a serious risk. Even if a child is just under the water for a minute or two, take them straight to the emergency room after a water scare.
  • Keep these safety rules in mind when you have small children in your care:
  • Supervise children who are under 4 years old in any body of water. This includes the bathtub.
  • Children under 4 years of age should never swim or bathe unassisted.
  • Passengers of all ages should wear lifejackets while boating.
  • Consider taking an infant CPR class if you frequently supervise children at the pool or the beach.
  • Invest in swimming lessons for yourself and your children.
  • Keep pool gates closed at all times.
  • Don’t swim or play near the ocean without a lifeguard present.

The takeaway

People who are treated immediately are more likely to recover when they have dry drowning symptoms with no lasting side effects.

The most important thing to ensure a good result is to carefully monitor the symptoms after a water accident. Call an emergency center as soon as symptoms appear. Don't try to wait.

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