The Dangers of Secondary and Dry Drowning

June 12, 2017 06:10 PM

(ABC 6 News) - We’re learning more about dry and secondary drowning after a four-year-old in Texas died a couple days after being in the water. 

"This time of year families are out by the water, whether it's a pool or lake and I am, too. I have a pool at my house and I have a four-year-old and one-year-old, so this is very personal to me," said Dr. Venk Bellamkonda an Emergency Medicine Physician with Mayo Clinic.  


Bellamkonda said parents should be aware of what dry and secondary drowning are. 

"Dry drowning is unique from the typical drowning that people are aware of because there's not water in the lungs. What’s actually happening is that a little bit of water gets in their mouth and it touches their vocal cords and upper airway. As a reaction to try and protect themselves, those muscles clamp down and it tries to keep more water from going into the lungs," said Bellamkonda.

In a case where that clamping happens for too long, the child will have a hard time breathing and could die. 

Recognizing the symptoms of dry drowning is just as important as water drowning, and something Rochester lifeguards learn about while taking their life guarding course.

"It is mentioned that any kids that go under the water and actually swallow water, is recommended to let their parents know or their guardians know that they should go to their family practitioner or the ER just to get a double check on everything," said Autumn Cappes.

While dry drowning can occur immediately and can look like a typical drowning, secondary drowning happens days after swimming.

"It’s believed that a little bit of water, or pond, or what not has gotten into their lungs and over time it causes inflammation," said Bellamkonda.

At firs, you may not see any symptoms, but over time secondary drowning comes with coughing, short breath, or pain in the chest and it could potentially be fatal. 

Bellamkonda said, "Dry drowning and secondary drowning represent between one and three percent of all drowning." 

But, even though the percentage is small, Bellamkonda said awareness is important,"You don't have to necessarily lose sleep at night when you take them out of the water, but just pay attention to them."

Dry drowning can also happen with adults, but is more common with kids because of their size.


Marissa Collins

Copyright 2017 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

Relay Media Amp

Most Read Stories

UPDATE: Charges Filed Against Noor in Damond Shooting

UPDATE: Charges Filed Against Noor in Damond Shooting

UPDATE: Bail set at $3M for Rochester Double Murder Suspect

Officer Shoots and Kills Alleged Aggressive Dog

UPDATE: Suspect in Maryland School Shooting has Died

Rochester Shooting Suspect Arrested on Domestic Abuse Charges

City Council Advances Bloom Riverfront Project; Adds Charter Change to November Ballot