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First Aid 2023

Drowning secundário (dry): what é, symptoms and what to do

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Drowning secundário (dry): what é, symptoms and what to do
Drowning secundário (dry): what é, symptoms and what to do

The expressions "secondary drowning" or "dry drowning" are popularly used to describe situations in which a person ends up dying after, a few hours before, having experienced a near-drowning situation. However, these terms are not recognized by the medical community.

This is because, if the person has had a near-drowning episode, but does not have any symptoms and is breathing normally, there is no risk of death and should not be worried about "secondary drowning".

However, if the person was rescued and still, within the first 8 hours, presents any symptoms such as cough, headache, drowsiness or difficulty breathing, they should be evaluated in the hospital to ensure that there is no inflammation of the airways respiratory conditions that could be life-threatening.


Main symptoms

A person experiencing "dry drowning" may be breathing normally and able to speak or eat, but after a while may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Headache;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Excessive fatigue;
  • Foam coming out of mouth;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Chest pain;
  • Constant cough;
  • Difficulty speaking or communicating;
  • Confusion;
  • Fever.

These signs and symptoms usually appear up to 8 hours after the near-drowning episode, which can happen on beaches, lakes, rivers or swimming pools, but can also appear after inspiration of the vomit itself.

What to do if you suspect secondary throttling

In case of near drowning, it is very important that the person, family and friends pay attention to the appearance of symptoms during the first 8 hours.

If there is a suspicion of "secondary drowning" you should call SAMU, calling 192, explaining what is happening or take the person immediately to the hospital for tests, such as x-rays and oximetry, to check respiratory function.

After the diagnosis, the doctor may prescribe the use of an oxygen mask and medication to facilitate the removal of fluid from the lungs. In the most severe cases, the person may need to be hospitalized to ensure breathing with the help of devices.

Learn what to do in case of drowning in water and how to avoid this situation.

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