Drowning outside water?

Guard himself as he may, every moment's an ambush ~ Horace

Just before the rains started, I made up my mind to go swimming every weekend (or every other weekend) - something I used to really enjoy doing.  I managed to go a few times though.
Whenever I go to the pool, I see some kids come in to swim (they take swimming lessons) very often. I've always had the 'consciousness' of knowing how to swim since I was a kid, so I really don't remember ever learning (I grew up in a riverine area in Nigeria). But these
kids, as young as they are, are really good. They are so active and never ever seem to get tired. I'd usually do a few laps, take a long break, lazy under the sun for a bit, read a book and just watch them play around (I enjoy this a lot), then jump back in the pool. It just seems like the kids have some gills tucked in somewhere in their little bodies and extra energy tucked somewhere behind their little bodies. I usually leave the pool very satisfied (when I manage not to get water into my ears).

With all the pleasant pool experiences and memories, imagine my shock when I was browsing through my timeline the other day and saw a video about a little boy who died of 'dry drowning'. I mean I thought all we had to worry about swimming pools included making sure there was a life guard around, keeping kids from diving especially at deep ends, keeping pools covered when not in use, etc. I had no idea there was such a thing called dry drowning. My initial reaction after watching the video was "how does one drown outside of water?"

This is the video of the 10-year old who died of 'drowning' hours after swimming (It is not graphic). The child went to bed after swimming and didn't wake up again. He died in his sleep. 

There are actually two kinds of phenomena that result in one 'drowning' outside water: 1) Dry drowning, and 2) Delayed (or Secondary) drowning, and these two differ.  The names are a bit confusing, but I'd just try and explain a bit.

1. Dry drowning: In dry drowning, the child while swimming, takes in a little amount of water (through the mouth or nose) that shuts off the airways. This leads to difficulty in breathing and usually happens soon after exiting the water. 

2. Delayed or Secondary drowning: Here, while swimming, water gets into the lungs in little quantities not enough to affect breathing immediately. Hours after swimming (up to 24 hours in some cases), the child 'drowns' as water in the lungs inhibits the lungs' ability to oxygenate blood and causes difficulty in breathing. 
It is also confusing cause the typical image we have of drowning is of someone struggling in water to stay afloat. This happens silently and smoothly, and may happen even while the child is asleep. 

Fortunately, the occurrence of either of this is very rare, although once again, it's difficult to get statistics in Nigeria. Fortunately, there are signs that parents/caregivers can look out for immediately or even hours after leaving the pool:

i. Coughing, chest pain, or throwing up: All these point to the fact that the child might be having difficulty breathing;

ii. Odd change in behaviour: Kids could be irritable, or there may be a drop in energy levels, meaning the brain is not getting enough oxygen.

If you see any of these symptoms or signs after your child has been swimming or been under water, it's best to have the doctor check them out. 

Note that drowning can occur in any kind or body of water (not just swimming pools) - bathtubs, ponds, small plastic pools, toilet bowls etc, so don't let your guard down at any time.

Over to you now. Have you seen this happen anywhere, or have you had any near incidences of drowning you would like to share with us? Over to the comments section please.

The Baby Analyst.

Not a doctor, just a financial analyst who loves kids 


jeminat alasa said…
Very informative piece! Thank you.

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