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May 02, 2018 06:13 PM

Dry Drowning: What You Should Know

With summer just about here, your children may be itching to get to the pool.

Things like sunscreen and life jackets are a no-brainer, but are your prepared for what can happen after leaving the pool?

A fun day at the pool can quickly turn deadly. But it's not just what's happening in the water that you should watch out for.

"Dry drowning can present more so when someone's maybe swimming and then afterwards they start developing some sort of respiratory issue," Dr. Kayla Norenberg with Sanford Health said. 

Norenberg says while 'dry drowning' isn't a medical term, it's important to address. 

"If they swallowed water and developed some kind of aspiration, pneumonia meaning the water got into their breathing area or, sometimes too something called pneumonitis,  meaning you have some inflammatory process going into your lungs as well," Norenberg said. 

Symptoms such as coughing, a drop in energy, vomiting and irritability may mean it's time for a trip to the doctor. 

"You can look for something called retractions, where when they're breathing you can see their ribs really closely or the underneath of their ribs... or the trachea, right here, is getting sucked in. Those would be things to watch for," Norenberg said. 

"If they're involved in a water incident, like a lifeguard has to jump after them, or if you pulled them out of the water when they fell in I'd at least give your pediatrician a call," Lifeguard Grace Reeves says. 

Lifeguards say dry drowning can occur hours to even days after swallowing water. 

"Things can happen quickly. So, even in that immediate time when we're seeing them if nothings going on that's not saying that maybe in 12 or 24 hours from the fact that something might progress into something more," Norenberg said. 

Though it can be hard to detect, there are prevention measures you can take. 

"A great prevention, one is swim lessons, and being able to know how to swim and survive in the water," Reeves said.

While the thought itself is terrifying, experts say you don't need to cancel your day at the lake.

"It's good to know what it is and how to see it, but it's not a reason to stay away from the water," Reeves said. 

Norenberg says if your child swallows water but shows no symptoms of a respiratory issue, a doctors visit isn't necessary. 


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