Digital Original: Unintentional drowning – knowing the signs and symptoms once out of the water

KLRT Family Health

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Summer has arrived and temperatures are heating up.

Which can mean for many folks – a quick dip in the pool might sound like a good idea.

However, before grabbing your swimsuit and heading into the water, some experts want people to be mindful of the potential risks and stressors imposed on the body when going for a swim, especially if this the first time getting back into the water all year.

“Not just drowning. Swimming itself is a stressor,” explains Dr. Nikhil Meena, a pulmonologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

Dr. Meena says it only takes a matter of seconds for a person to drown and knowing your body is key to saving your life.

“… the fact that they immersed themselves in the water which made them have that bad rhythm and then they went on to drown from it,” explains Dr. Meena.

Dr. Meena is a Pulmonary Disease Specialist at UAMS in Little Rock. Having more than 20 years of diverse experiences, especially with lungs, he understands that although many people may have heard of terms such as “dry drowning” or “secondary drowning,” there really is no such thing.

“In the history of all known drownings a person who has been rescued and does not have any symptoms has never died,” Dr. Meena says.

Dr. Meena explains that people die from other factors, such as stressors placed on the body after drowning. Such as water damaging the lungs or cardiac-related symptoms from internal damaged caused by the incidents.

“However, anytime after the event happens before they die the person can be rescued,” says Dr. Meena.

Experts say some symptoms to look for once out of the water are:

  • Inability to cough or the desire to cough but can’t
  • Chest pains
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold or bluish skin
  • Abdominal swelling (commonly seen in children)
  • Fever (typically caused by the irritation of water in the lungs)
  • Low energy or sleepiness due to lack of oxygen flowing through the lungs
  • Difficulty breathing or speaking
    irritability or unusual behavior

Every day, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With drowning ranking fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the U.S.

For more information about unintentional drowning, click here.

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