Dry drowning: Symptoms and treatments
Symptoms of dry drowning are better understood and easier to identify if you know what to look for. The average person does not know what dry drowning is, unless it has happened to them or seen someone else experience it, much less what to look for. So to better educate the reader about the symptoms of dry drowning, I need to first attempt to explain what dry drowning is, then a brief explanation of what can cause dry drowning. Then, I will point out the symptoms that need to be looked for, and provide ways a patient can be treated for dry drowning.
First, let’s take an anatomy lesson. The lungs are sacks in the chest that hold oxygen. The diaphragm is a muscle below the lungs that expand and contract, causing the lungs to expand and contract, drawing in air like a sort of vacuum. The lungs have things called alveoli. Alveoli are found branching off the bronchioles. They are the primary place where gas is exchanged with the blood. But before air can get to the Alveoli, it first has to be breathed in through the larynx found in the pharynx (wind pipe).
Typically, when a person is drowning the larynx spasms shut so that the liquid can not get into the lungs, but if that was all then we could breathe under water right? Well what happens is the diaphragm keeps expanding and contracting, trying to get air into the oxygen deprived body. This vacuum can pull open the larynx in small amounts before it closes again. It takes just two table spoons of a liquid in the lungs to drown a child. If the person does not drown by oxygen deprivation (Hypoxia), it is a good chance they could by a build up of carbon dioxide in the body (Acidosis) which is the gas that the body produces and is usually exhaled with the transfer of oxygen. With dry drowning, however, the fluid that is getting into the lungs is not foreign. We use the term dry drowning, but the person is actually drowning in their own bodily fluids. This happens when the vessels that carry deoxygenated blood to the lungs become too narrow for the red blood cells to pass through freely. The blood is not taking in oxygen or releasing carbon dioxide effectively. The vacuum trying to get air in is drawing in fluid from the vasculature instead and into the airspaces of the lung.
So what causes dry drowning? Typically, dry drowning involves larynx spasms and immediate hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) and death, not delayed pulmonary edema (the hearts inability to remove the fluid from lung circulation or a direct injury to the lungs connective tissue). Dry drowning is not a secondary drowning or a delayed submersion injury though it can be hard to distinguish what from what, as the injuries that the body sustains during a wet drowning can cause a dry drowning reaction. So, dry drowning accurse when a person’s lungs can not pull oxygen into the body or if the diaphragm is not able to create respiratory movement. This can happen if a person receives a puncture wound to the chest cavity or if a person has extensive exposure to any gas, toxic or not, that displaces oxygen. Like when a person is shut up in a building with no openings and a car running. An overdose of free water decreases sodium in the blood, which also leads to massive swelling in the brain, can cause dry drowning. Remember that dry drowning caused by liquid pressure against the larynx can even happen in the bath, not just at a pool or lake.
How can we tell if some one is dry drowning? What do we look for? First of all anytime someone is unable to get enough oxygen into their body, they will have labored breathing. Usually someone who can not breathe will give the tale tale signs like grasping their throat or choking and gagging. If you are at the pool: Did the person enter the pool forcibly perhaps through a high diving board or a long steep slide? Water forcibly hitting the larynx causes it to spasm shut. Spasms usually happen within six to ten minutes after the water hits the larynx. But dry drowning can happen between one and twenty-four hours after ingesting the water. Though, it is typical for a person to breathe heavily after swimming due to energy exertion, it should not be persistent. If their breath sounds raspy start paying close attention and look for related signs such as extreme tiredness (lethargy) and changes in behavior. More obvious and potentially dangers symptoms could be where the person complains of painful breathing (It’s been recommended to count the number of respirations for fifteen seconds and multiply by four. Over twenty respirations per minute could be a red flag for dry drowning), changing colors like becoming pale or blue-grayish (check the nail beds) due to oxygen being unable to get into the blood stream adequately. If you notice these symptoms call 911 immediately.
If a person is drowning or has passed out in the water and you are certified in CPR, you should begin mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing. There isn’t much a person can do out side of the hospital for a near-drowning person other than keep them warm, breathing, and get them to the hospital as soon as possible. Depending on how near-death the drowning experience was determines the type of treatment in the E.R. If there are no serious symptoms the person could be held for observation for up to eight hours and a follow up visit with the doctor one to three days following the incident. Someone that has symptoms that could prove fatal (not breathing),
the person may be put on a ventilator or some other breathing assisting machines to restore proper oxygen distribution. If the person is experiencing hypothermia they could be heated by intravenous fluids, heat packs, or just blankets. [If you suspect hypothermia you should never submerge someone in hot water. Remove wet clothes and wrap in warm blankets, provide warm liquids to drink, or place in a car with a running heater.] If the person is vomiting they may have to have a stomach tube. In most cases a person with moderate symptoms will only require monitors for cardiac and respiratory stability and bronchodilators to decrease airway spasm. A person may be prescribed antibiotics and steroids to prevent or treat lung infection.
www.ehow.com/how_2096982_determine-dry-drowning.html www.captc.org/newspdf/tw-5-10-04.pdf en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_drowning wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_symptoms_of_dry_drowning blogs.webmd.com/…/06/dry-drowning-invisible-tragedy.html http://www.ehow.com/how_2384519_prevent-dry-drowning.html http://www.thedoctorwillseeyounow.com/articles/other/drown_7/