Secondary drowning is a rare pathology, and for that same reason little known, but knowing its existence can save lives. We must therefore try to make it known and communicate to parents and guardians how to act.
Learn to spot the symptoms of secondary drowning early. It is important to act quickly.
The term 'secondary drowning' is used to define a situation that can occur after a 'near drowning'. In other words, a child falls into a pool or into the sea, generally after being unconscious, water enters his lungs; the child can respond well to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (resuscitation) maneuvers and remains unharmed, as is the child under normal conditions ('near drowning').
But after a window period, which can last from one hour to 48 or 72 hours, lung function deteriorates, and the child begins to show symptoms such as:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Intense cough.
- Strange behaviors sign of abnormal brain activity (difficulty pronouncing words, memory loss, inattention).
This occurs because the water that has entered to the bottom of the lungs, that is, the alveoli, produces abnormal irritation and causes the loss of surfactant (which helps the alveoli stay open, like soap bubbles). It can occur after a 'near drowning' in fresh or salt water.
So after such an episode you must take the child to the hospital, since it must remain a few hours in observation. If the child has had to be resuscitated or it has been something more than a simple drink of water, it should be evaluated by a doctor and reevaluated after a few hours.
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