Dry and secondary drowning are two different respiratory conditions that can occur after accidentally inhaling water. Due to reduced lung size and capacities, children are much more prone to getting these conditions after having been around large bodies of water. As summer moves forward and more and more families continue to attend local beaches, pools, and lakes, doctors continue to highly recommend water safety and close monitoring of young children during and after any water activities.
Both dry and secondary drowning can occur after inhaling water into the lungs. While both conditions can be detrimental to the lungs, they affect the respiratory system in slightly different ways. With dry drowning, the vocal cords and airway become inflamed after inhaling a sum of water. In secondary drowning, the lungs get inflamed due to accumulation of fluid that was accidentally inhaled. Due to the inflammation that the lungs or airway experience, both conditions can easily develop breathing complications. When breathing becomes compromised, oxygen available to the body is reduced. As a result, common symptoms are produced which include: fatigue, headache, lightheadedness, altered moods, chest pain, and shortness of breath. As complications progress, it is vital that one gets treated soon. If such symptoms occur, it is highly recommended that the ill be seen by a physician as soon as possible.
Common treatments for dry and secondary drowning include close monitoring, IV medication therapy, and oxygen support. If dry or secondary drowning is suspected, medical help will be needed immediately. To protect young children from inhaling water, close monitoring and supervision should always be practiced. While the likelihood of such conditions is very low compared to the classic wet drowning that usually occurs, cases have been reported and occurrences do tend to slightly increase during the summer seasons.
Gardner, A. (n.d.). Dry drowning and secondary drowning: causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/children/features/secondary-drowning-dry-drowning
Pearn, J. H. (1980). Secondary drowning in children. British Medical Journal, 281(6248), 1103–1105.
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