What Are the Complications of Dry Drowning?

Get your free, no-cost case evaluation below

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

* all fields required

Nearly drowning is a terrifying experience. Many people believe once a person is out of the water and breathing, they are out of danger. Unfortunately, that’s a deadly myth. Almost drowning has its own hazards and complications, including dry drowning. If you or someone you loved had a drowning incident in a pool, lake, the ocean, or another body of water, go to the doctor to discuss it – even if you or your loved one seems fine.

What Is Dry Drowning?

Dry drowning, medically known as post-immersion syndrome, can happen after a near drowning experience. Dry drowning is rare, but when it does happen, it can be scary and unexpected. This condition mainly occurs in children. Most children who slip under the water are just fine, but it is important to know about, and watch for any developing symptoms. The quicker a child receives treatment for symptoms, the better the outcome.

Dry drowning causes laryngospasms, meaning the vocal cords close over the child’s windpipe.   This prevents oxygen from entering the lungs and over time can cause serious damage. You can watch for warning signs of dry drowning within an hour of getting out of the water, making it important to observe children after a water incident. The sooner someone identifies the warning signs, the faster the child can receive treatment.

The difference between dry drowning and wet drowning is that wet drowning allows water to enter the lungs, where dry drowning does not. The treatment and the outcomes are both the same. Drownings classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) fall into three categories based on the outcome of the incident:

  • A death
  • A survival
  • A survival with some sort of mental or physical impairment

Other Complications for Dry Drowning

Drowning in real life does not look anything like drowning in the movies. It is usually a silent act with very little thrashing. Victims do everything possible to keep their heads above the water, draining energy quickly. Plus, as mentioned before, drowning causes the vocal cords to spasm, rendering the victim unable to call for help. Those who have experienced a drowning event describe it as a panicked feeling, but not able to do anything about it.

If an injury occurs from diving into a pool, it can also change the outcome of the situation. A head or neck injury can make drowning even more of a problem since the person cannot fight to breathe. Victims of drowning are often floating on the surface or found at the bottom of a body of water. Infants most often drown in a bathtub, children most often drown in a neighborhood or backyard pool, and teens and young adults tend to drown in natural bodies of water like ponds or lakes.

Symptoms to Look for After a Near Drowning

Because dry drowning is such a quiet event, victims require close monitoring after the event. If you believe someone is a victim of dry drowning, it is best to get them to a medical professional as soon as possible to monitor them for symptoms. As soon as they present, treatment can begin, raising the survival rate. Symptoms can include:

  • difficulty breathing or talking
  • coughing
  • chest pain
  • irritability
  • unusual behaviors
  • low energy
  • fatigue after the incident

Be Safe in Florida’s Waters

One of the joys of living in or visiting Florida is being on the quiet inland lakes or the ocean but being near water has risks for everyone – even for the best swimmers. Don’t treat a near drowning incident as something to simply be thankful for; look for signs of complications and get proper medical care for times when drowning has been imminent. If you believe your loved one was a victim of dry drowning because of someone else’s negligence, contact a personal injury attorney or wrongful death attorney in Florida.