Have You Heard of Dry Drowning?

I never have—until I read a post yesterday from the Delighted Momma blog. Founder Lindsay Kujawa shares her "almost nightmare" experience with her toddler son, Ronin, at a pool party. She recalls turning her back for five seconds tops, and Ronin fell into the water. She quickly pulled him out. She wrote, "Other than Ronin being visibly upset and coughing to get the water out, he seemed totally fine after he had calmed down." But he wasn't.

Later that night, Kujawa recalled that Ronin developed a strange cough, and just wasn't acting like himself. She called her pediatrician, who, much to Kujawa's surprise, urged her to take her son to the ER. After taking a chest X-Ray, the doctors found that water was trapped in his lungs, and sent him to a nearby children's hospital. On the way there, his oxygen levels plummeted. At the children's hospital, Kujawa learned about secondary drowning, also called dry drowning, which occurs when water that's been swallowed gets into the lungs and blocks oxygen from leaving the lungs to enter the bloodstream. Symptoms can start from 1 hour to 2 days after the near-drowning accident. And it's more common than you might think, happening in 1 out 20 near-drowning cases, according to one review.

Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have this message for parents: "Every child who has fallen into the water or experienced a near-drowning should be taken to the emergency room immediately," says pediatrician Elumali Appachi, M.D. "If we can intervene quickly, it's possible for a child to recover."

Fortunately, Ronin is among the survivors. He was actually discharged from the hospital the next day. Writes Kujawa: "I am forever changed since this happened. I will not let this define me but you can guarantee that I will be doing things much differently from here on out.  It was a huge wakeup call.  And it really taught me that, yes, in just a few seconds, your life can change forever. I got a too-close taste of what that really can be like."


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