Downplaying 'Dry Drowning'
Pediatricians say they've been getting calls from parents worried about "dry drowning". Drowning is common, but doctors say that "dry drowning" doesn't actually exist.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Pediatricians in central Virginia say they've been getting calls from parents worried about "dry drowning".
Dry drowning is when a child dies hours or days after swimming because of trapped water in the lungs.
While drowning is extremely common in the U.S., with about 13,000 medical drownings per year, but doctors say that "dry drowning" doesn't actually exist.
Instead, there are different categories of drowning, with some being more common than others.
Regardless of whether you die, medical drowning is where you have symptoms of breathing impairment caused by immersion or submersion in liquid.
In the two categories of drowning- fatal and nonfatal - nonfatal drowning is actually five times more common.
It only takes about an ounce of liquid in the lungs of the average 3-year-old child to cause drowning.
Pediatrician Alaina Brown says there are a few things you can look for if you are worried about symptoms after a nonfatal drowning.
“A good rule of thumb is if you or your child has anything more than a… like when you drink a glass of water and it goes down the wrong pipe and you have some coughing or choking. Its anything more than that you should seek medical care,” Brown said.
Excessive cough, foaming at the mouth, breathing troubles, or changes in mental status are what to look for within eight hours after being in water.
If it's after this eight hour period - what people call "dry drowning" or "secondary drowning" - should be ruled out as a diagnosis and doctors will start looking for other health issues.
Pediatricians say they look at drowning deaths as entirely preventable.
Swim lessons are recommended for every toddler over the age of 4.