We’ve had a few questions come our way about what to be on the lookout for and what is really happening. So, naturally, we asked our resident Big Fish, Kelly Gaines.
What is water intoxication, “dry drowning,” and secondary drowning?
Water intoxication is a condition called Hyponatremia. Hyponatremia occurs when either too much water is taken in or not enough water is excreted. This disturbs the delicate balance and function of chemical and electrical processes in the body and can lead to a very serious medical problem. The initial symptom is likely to be impaired consciousness or unusual behavior followed by seizures, coma, and possible death. The swallowing of large quantities of water can cause water intoxication. In an organized Infant/Toddler class this is not common. Our class structure of 30 minutes and controlled, numbered submersions prevents this from happening.
Dry Drowning – No water actually enters the lungs. A sudden rush of a large amount of water into the throat, causes the airway to snap shut, a condition known as laryngospasm. During this event, although no water enters the lungs, neither does any air, the victim dies of asphyxiation. To help prevent dry drowning – teach students to keep their mouth shut when jumping or diving into water, thereby protecting the larynx from a sudden inrush of water that could cause it to spasm and cut off the airway.
Secondary (or delayed) drowning – Swimmers inhale water that gets into the lungs. This causes some coughing and sputtering. Parents need to keep an eye out for further complications that include – difficulty breathing, extreme tiredness, or marked changes in behavior. Should these symptoms occur, the child should be taken to the emergency room immediately for observation.
Scary stuff, for sure, but the more you know, the more you can do to intervene in a dangerous situation before it’s too late. We know we’re preaching to the choir here, but the best approach is to educate your child – with swim lessons. Give them a skill that will serve them a lifetime, providing not only fun but could end up saving their lives.