Many times we don’t care about this but when you spend a day at the swimming pool, it’s only normal that you would feel exhausted and sleepy, especially if you are a child who’s been extremely active throughout the day. This is exactly why Cassandra Jackson didn’t suspect anything when her son told her he needed some sleep when he got home after spending the day at the pool. Johnny, 10, went to bed after the exhausting day and his mother didn’t suppose that anything was wrong with him. She went to check on her child afterwards and was surprised at what she saw.
The child had foam on his mouth and had difficulties breathing. After taking him to the ER immediately, the mother was told that what happened was ”Secondary Drowning“ and it was a condition that resulted from swallowed water that can occur within 72 hours. Though rare, secondary drowning can be fatal if warning symptoms are ignored. Anytime someone (children and adults alike) inhales even a small gush of water (pool, lake or ocean) it can irritate the lungs and cause swelling. Usually very little water is present in the lungs when secondary drowning occurs, but the small amount of liquid is enough to hinder the lungs ability to provide oxygen to the bloodstream.
If your child has had a near drowning, or perhaps swallowed too much water, keep a close eye out for the symptoms of secondary drowning and take them to the hospital immediately. Symptoms can even take between one and 72 hours to appear.
Here’s what to look for:
- Excess fatigue after bathing
- Shortness of breath after bathing
- Irritability or mood swings, for no apparent reason
The most important thing parents can do has nothing to do with doctors or the emergency room and everything to do with preventing drowning in the first place. “Water safety is by far the most important thing,” Reiter says.
Follow these tips to protect your child:
- Always watch your child closely when they’re in or around water.
- Only let him swim in areas that have lifeguards.
- Never let him swim alone.
- Enroll yourself and your children in water-safety classes. There are even programs that introduce children 6 months to 3 years of age to the water.
- If you have a pool at your home, make sure it’s completely fenced.
Teenagers are more likely to have drowning incidents that are related to drugs and alcohol, so teach your kids about the risks, says Mike Gittelman, MD, co-director of the Comprehensive Children’s Injury Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. And don’t let your guard down just because the water isn’t deep. Drowning can occur in any kind of water — bathtubs, toilet bowls, ponds, or small plastic pools.