In the wake of a four-year old's shocking death in Dallas, Texas, as a result of what is known as "dry drowning", many parents are concerned about their child's safety in the water this summer. Fortunately, the odds of your child experiencing this are extremely small, and, with recognition of the symptoms, it can be treated at the emergency room successfully.
Dry drowning occurs when a child (or adult) inhales even a small amount of water into their lungs. This causes the larynx of the throat to shut quickly to prevent any more water from getting in. As a result, when the diaphragm in the chest moves down to inhale again, a vacuum is created, and no new air is able to come through, leading to oxygen deprivation.
Symptoms of dry drowning can include many of the same symptoms as a common stomach bug: vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, or coughing.
If you suspect your child to be showing some symptoms of dry drowning, contact a medical professional and get their opinion. Mild symptoms may simply require observation, while more severe symptoms will require more advanced treatments.
In order to prevent your child from ingesting water, it is always a good idea to use a life jacket or personal flotation device with small children who cannot swim confidently on their own. Also, keep a close watch over your child while they are in or near the water. This will allow you to quickly respond appropriately to any situation that may call for your attention.