About 3,500 Americans die every year from unintentional drowning and one in every five drowning deaths involve a child under 14-years-old. Everyone understands the concept of “wet drowning” which is when the throats airway relaxes, and water enters the lungs. However, most people do not understand the concept of “dry drowning.” Dry drowning occurs in the same ways as wet drowning except the airways do not completely relax and so less water enters the lungs. Dry drowning accounts for 10 to 15 percent of all drowning deaths.
Interestingly, there is no clinical difference in the outcome of wet versus dry drowning but there is an added danger with dry drowning. In instances of dry drowning it can take up to 48 hours to manifest. In such instances, a child can have trouble breathing, experience bouts of coughing, sleepiness or tiredness, forgetfulness, vomiting and/or diarrhea. Medical experts advise that if you observe these symptoms with 48 hours of an episode, seek medical attention immediately.