How To Spot the Symptoms of Dry Drowning

Dry drowning requires immediate medical attention. Your ability to spot the symptoms of dry drowning could mean the difference between life and death for a friend or loved one. Know what you're looking for, and you could save someone from dry drowning. Here are the symptoms to look for:

Step 1

Look for vital signs. Dry drowning requires only a small amount of liquid. A person doesn't need to be in a pool or even a bathtub to experience dry drowning. So it's important to closely observe someone after they've been near water (or pulled out of water) to see how they are responding. Movement and coughing are both excellent signs that the person will recover. But it doesn't mean they're in the clear. Decide whether the person appears to be suffering or struggling. If you're not sure, look for these other symptoms.

Step 2

Watch for difficulty with breathing. A person suffering from dry drowning will have difficulty breathing because of water in the airway. This includes any level of painful breathing or shallow breathing. Time how well the person is breathing by counting how many times he or she breathes in within a 15 second period. Multiply that by 4 to see how many breaths would be taken in a minute. If it's over 20, there is the distinct possibility that this person is dry drowning.

Step 3

Spot the other signs of dry drowning. Along with difficulty breathing, a victim of dry drowning may have a persistent cough, chest pain, or a striking change in his or her mental well-being. As well, lazy or limp posture when lying down, along with odd skin color (pale, blue or grey), are all signs of little oxygen in the blood caused by poor breathing. (These signs will show up quicker in children than adults, so be observant and act quickly if you spot any of these signs).

Remember, call 911 immediately if you spot any of these symptoms of dry drowning. If you are close to a hospital, drive the victim to the emergency room. Dry drowning can be treated, but it needs to be caught early. Treatment involves supplying oxygen to the lungs.  Symptoms can show up anywhere from immediately after a near-drowning to nearly 24 hours later. So keep an eye on your friend or loved one to ensure that he or she doesn't become a victim of dry drowning.


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