The short and scary answer is yes. This rare phenomenon, known as secondary drowning, occurs most often in children in the hours following a near-drowning experience. This condition is difficult to recognize as the victim will typically seem fine once the immediate fear has passed.
Secondary drowning occurs when enough water enters the lungs to cause a drop in oxygen levels. It only takes a small amount of water to prevent the lungs from being able to deliver oxygen to the bloodstream.
Secondary drowning is difficult to detect because it comes on gradually. The victim will walk and talk as if there is nothing wrong, but sudden changes in personality, awareness, or energy levels after a near-drowning experience may indicate an underlying problem. Anytime a child has inhaled water, it is important to monitor the child closely for signs of laboured breathing or altered mental status.
Fortunately, blood-oxygen levels can be restored if the problem is anticipated, recognized, and treated aggressively. If your child has had a near-drowning experience, it is important to be on the lookout for symptoms in the 48 hour period after the initial panic has subsided. The symptoms may appear faster after a fresh water immersion, while the prognosis may be worse after a salt water immersion.
With school almost out for the summer, our children will be spending more time swimming. Even in the most supervised environments accidents can still occur around water. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed as a result of a water related accident, a personal injury lawyer may be able to help. Click HERE to book your free consultation.
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