Secondary drowning


MASON CITY, Iowa –  The pool, it’s a place where many of us go to have some fun in the sun.  Usually, there’s someone on hand looking out for us.

“Lifeguards are very important. They are the eyes, the ears of everything. They are the people that keep people safe when it comes to swimming,” said Brian Pauly, Parks and Recreation Supervisor for Mason City.  Among other duties, a lifeguard’s job is to watch for possible drowning, but there’s a type of drowning that they just can’t see.

“It comes from inhaling water. That can happen at the poo.l that can happen at the house.  The saying, someone can drown from a teaspoon of water, that’s actually where it comes from,” said Pauly.

Some call it “Secondary Drowning” or “Dry Drowning”.  Doctors don’t want you to confuse it with swallowing. This describes that water is actually being inhaled into the lungs. Dr.Paranav Singh, a critical care physician, insists this is very uncommon, but wants you to know it’s still a concern.

“If they’re doing fine after 8 hours after drowning, they won’t have any problems. But, if they develop any symptoms, then they should come to the hospital,” said Singh.

Those worried should look for drowsiness, excessive coughing, or what Dr. Singh calls asthma like symptoms.  He says this is treated like an asthma attack.  That’s why he asks people to just follow the basic rules when it comes to pool fun.

“I think the advice is the same for any other drowning. To make sure they’re well supervised,” said Singh.

Dr. Singh says younger children are more prone to experience this type of drowning.  However, it is very rare.  In fact, the CDC doesn’t even have stats on so called “Dry Drowning”.

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