Doctors Warn Parents About Dangers Of 'Dry Drowning'

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Doctors Warn Parents About Dangers Of 'Dry Drowning'

CREATED May 29, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As summer vacation begins for many students across the mid-state, doctors want to warn parents about a lesser-known water-related medical emergency.

Dry drowning, also known as secondary drowning, occurs when water that’s been swallowed gets into the lungs and blocks oxygen from leaving the lungs to enter the blood stream.

It's a small risk, but also a potentially deadly condition that doctors said moms and dads need to know how to spot.

“Initially a child could appear well and you think they may have just swallowed a little bit of water, but then instead of getting better and sort of getting back to what they were doing you may notice that your child is coughing more or maybe has a different sound to their voice,” said Dr. Ian Kane at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. “Just seems to be maybe struggling a bit to breathe, like a bad cough that won't go away.”

Dr. Kane said parents will know when it is more than just normal coughing, and has lasted too long. Doctors said if your child stops coughing after five to 10 minutes they're likely fine.

“If you don't think your child looks right you call your pediatrician or you go to the emergency room,” Dr. Kane stated.

Experts at Vanderbilt said "dry drowning" occurs in about five-percent of drowning cases treated.