Swimmers experience drowning risk even after leaving the pool

Doctors say you can still be at risk for drowning, even after leaving the pool.

Posted: Jul. 10, 2018 6:56 PM

(St.Joseph,MO) Hot summer weather means more kids and families are hitting the local swimming pools. For families with young children,you might want to pay extra attention to the amount of water they may be taking in while swimming.

Travis Langender, a Pediatrician from the University of Kansas Hospital, said swimmers can still be at risk for drowning, even after leaving the water.

"Dry drowning is when a kid or an adult takes a small amount of water or fluid in through the mouth or the nose, that that fluid causes a reaction in the upper airway. What it does is close off their windpipe and makes it very difficult for them to take air in,"Langender said.

You can easily recognize dry drowning, by the immediate symptoms like wheezing and coughing, but swimmers also have to be aware of the long-term dangers of secondary drowning.

"Secondary drowning where the actual insult is fluid getting into the lungs and the problem being from the exposure of the fluid in the lungs, that can be as much as 24 hours after the ingestion of that water,"Langender said.

Mary Frazier is the Aquatics Director for Genesis Health Club and has been teaching swim lessons for over 18 years and said the risk isn’t limited to the pool.

“It can happen even in a bathtub or a larger body of water. That’s why we need to keep a close eye on the intake [of water] that our children experience when they are in the water,”Frazier said.

Lifeguards said inexperienced swimmers and children and are more likely to experience dry drowning.

"They are maybe going to take on more water, drink more water, get it in their mouth and not know how to expel it properly," Frazier said.

Out-of-water drowning symptoms include a heavy cough, difficulty breathing, a change in voice and extreme exhaustion.

"If you have a kid who has difficulty breathing or lots of coughing especially after being in the water, the best thing is to bring them to medical attention or to come to the emergency room”Langender said.

Frazier said both dry and secondary drownings make up a small percentage of fatal drowning cases each year and can be easily avoided all together.

“In all cases, it’s only one to two percent of drownings that happen that way,” Frazier said.“Most of the time dry drowning and secondary drowning are not that serious. It’s just a matter of having them [victims] checked out and keeping a close eye on your child.”

Frazier said you should never leave children unattended near a body of water. If you suspect your child has taken in too much water, contact your family doctor.

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