These days swimming has become a fashion statement. Starting from a young age, we as parents make our children learn swimming. Don’t we?? Sharing an incident for fellow parents that made me aware of how swimming which is a relaxing and peaceful form of exercise that alleviates stress, improves physical posture, and above all rejuvenates the whole body can prove fatal.

It was only recently when my friend’s nine-year-old son, who is a good swimmer, was rushed to the hospital due to uneasiness. Since, his last swimming session, he developed breathing problems. His disturbed sleep patterns caused him weariness. His parents thought it could be due to climate change, tried to medicate him with home remedies. But, his condition kept on worsening. Without wasting much time, his parents took him to the nearest hospital. The doctors analyzed the symptoms and termed the condition as ‘Dry Drowning’. Like me, his parents too were in a state of shock. Not many of us are aware of the fact that, drowning can happen while swimming too. Generally, a small amount of water entering the trachea causes a muscle spasm that seals the airway and prevents the passage of both air and water until unconsciousness occurs. In such a situation, the drowning person is unable to call or shout out for help. For majority cases, survival rates depend strongly on the duration of immersion.

What is dry drowning and what parents should know about it? Dry drowning is a rare condition. In this situation, water never reaches the lungs. Instead, breathing in water causes the child’s vocal cords to spasm and close up, that shuts off the airways, making it hard to breathe. Dry drowning usually happens soon after exiting the water. In most of the cases, the symptoms go unnoticed. Some of the common symptoms of Dry Drowning are:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Increased Breathing
  • Lack of Sleep, which means that enough amount of oxygen is not getting into the blood.
  • Forgetfulness or change in behavior, which is as a result of a dip in oxygen level which could cause your child to feel sick or woozy.
  • Throwing up or Vomiting is a sign of stress from the body as a result of the inflammation and sometimes a lack of oxygen, also from persistent coughing and gagging. If you notice any of these symptoms within your child, please do not hesitate to provide medical aid.

Dry Drowning is always misunderstood with Secondary Drowning. Delayed or secondary drowning is similar but occurs when swimmers have taken water into their lungs. The water builds up over time, eventually causing breathing difficulties. The term Dry Drowning is not medically accepted. Many health organizations, including WHO, discourages the use of Dry Drowning because it is a rare condition and not many cases have been reported so far. Luckily, the teenager got timely medical supervision and recovered quickly. The doctor advised him to be more careful while swimming. Not many of us are aware of this rare condition and we should make more people aware of this term. Swimmers must always be cautious in water.

As the proverb rings, Prevention is better than cure, parents should always ensure that their kids swim in a safe environment with adult supervision. Adults should also make sure that necessary safety measures are followed in case of an emergency and timely medical aid is provided.

 

Author Charutha Raj