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Secondary drowning can occur hours after swimming
August 20, 2017, 11:53 am

Though rare, there have been occasions when a person has been known to drown on dry land hours after having been in the water.

To clarify; medical experts recognize two types of drowning, dry drowning and secondary drowning. Sometimes these two terms are used interchangeably, but typically dry drowning is said to occur minutes after submersion, when water reaches the vocal cords and causes them to spasm, which blocks off the airway.

Secondary drowning is what happens within 24 hours after leaving the water. In secondary drowning, water gets into the lungs and remains there for several hours, triggering inflammation that can lead to blockage of the lower airways and difficulty in breathing.

Secondary drowning is extremely rare, and is more common in children than adults. Signs of secondary drowning in someone who was submerged or accidentally swallowed water include: fast breathing; trouble breathing; vomiting; lethargy; exhaustion, lack of energy; frequent urge to sleep; and a lack of desire to eat or drink.

Doctors say the main key to identify secondary drowning is to look for respiratory troubles. If your child is vomiting, has difficulty breathing and is sleeping or is struggling to stay awake, then seek emergency care. On the other hand, it is common for children to get sick after being in the water, so if it is only a cough, then you may just need to call your health care provider to schedule an appointment. However, a child who had a near-drowning experience should be taken to an emergency department and monitored to ensure there is no lung damage.


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