Dry and Secondary Drowning

There is an increase interest in water activities as families try to escape the heat during the summer months. Atlanta accidental drowning attorney James Ponton has worked with families throughout Georgia who have suffered when a loved one has drowned. Tragically, these deaths are often preventable and it is important that everyone knows what to do when someone is drowning.

Are There Different Types of Drowning?

It may surprise many to know there are different types of drowning. Most people are only aware of “wet” drowning – where the lungs are filled with water. However, there are other types of drowning such as “dry” drowning and “secondary” drowning.

What is dry drowning?

Dry drowning occurs when water agitates the upper airway causing the vocal cords to spasm. The spasms constrict the airway and causes suffocation. Symptoms relating to secondary drowning generally occur within an hour of water exposure.

What is secondary drowning?

Secondary drowning occurs when a small amount of water enters the lungs and disrupts tiny airways deep inside the lungs. Secondary drowning can occur up to 24 hours after the water has entered the lungs.

What are the Symptoms of a Drowning Victim?

Getting a drowning victim medical attention as quickly as possible is essential, therefore, being able to recognize that someone is drowning is critical. When someone is going through the drowning process they may show the following symptoms:

  • Unresponsive
  • Cold or bluish skin
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Shortness or lack of breath
  • Vomiting

What Should I Do if Someone is Drowning?

The American Heart Association offers courses to get cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification which can help save lives. You can find a course near you by visiting the American Heart Association website. There are some steps you can still do to help the drowning victim even if you do not have training.

  1. Seek emergency medical help. Dial 911 and follow the instructions given to you.
  2. Check for hazards. Making sure there are no hazards around the victim can be helpful. Remove obstructions surrounding the victim, only if you can do so safely.
  3. Guide emergency help. You may be able to help by standing outside of the pool area and directing emergency help to the victim when they arrive.
  4. Don’t make the situation worse. Do not attempt CPR, or any other medical procedure, without proper training or at the direction of an emergency medical professional.

Near-Drowning Damage

Someone who has gone through the drowning process may suffer significantly afterwards. The act of drowning damages many different parts of the body including the respiratory system and the brain. Most significantly, drowning cuts off the ability of the lungs to push oxygen into the blood stream. Those who have gone through the drowning process may suffer from several serious conditions.

  • Brain Damage. When the brain is derived of blood and oxygen cells will die. If enough brain cells die the victim may not be able to recover and suffer from permanent brain damage. This means that the victim may remain in a permanent vegetative state or suffer from cognitive issues for the rest of their lives.
  • Respiratory System Damage. The act of drowning begins in the respiratory system when water blocks the lungs ability to push oxygen into the blood system. When drowning, the body will begin to go through an emergency process that includes trying to force the lungs to work harder. The combination of stress and water can cause tears in the lung tissue that can cause lasting breathing complications.

The Law Offices of James Ponton

Please contact us online or call Ponton Law today at 404-418-8507 if a loved one has died or been injured while trying to enjoy water activities. We may be able to help you identify who was responsible.

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