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“Dry Drowning” is one more concern parents should have this summer as they take their children to swim. While it may sound impossible, the recent death of a 10 year old boy in South Carolina has doctors warning parents of such a danger.

Dry drowning occurs when a person’s lungs become unable to extract oxygen from the air, due primarily to:

§ Muscular paralysis

§ Puncture wound to torso (affecting ability of diaphragm to create respiratory movement)

§ Changes to oxygen-absorbing tissues

§ Persistence of laryngospasm when immersed in fluid

§ Breathing another gas besides oxygen too long (e.g. Helium)

However, the most common way in which “dry drowning” occurs is when a small amount of water is aspirated into the lungs. The water causes damage to the lungs and decreases the amount of oxygen flow in the blood. Thus, a person may effectively drown without being immersed in fluid. The laryngospasm reflex essentially causes asphyxiation and neurogenic pulmonary edema.

Some common signs of “dry drowning” include: difficulty breathing, extreme tiredness, and uncommon behavior.

IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons

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