What is Dry Drowning?

Unlike drowning which is an immediate result of immersion into water, dry drowning is a delayed effect and can occur up to 24 hours after your child has had contact with water.

When a child takes in a small amount of water from a bath or pool, their larynx and vocal cords spasm (laryngospasm). The spasms minimise the amount of water from going into the lungs (aspiration), however it still causes breathing difficulty, possibly respiratory arrest, consequently leading to inadequate supply of oxygen in the blood.

Are there any risk factors for dry drowning?

Children with underlying lung problems such as asthma may be at an increased risk.

Signs & Symptoms to watch out for:

Persistent coughing: The spasms (medical term = laryngospasm), causes your child’s throat to close. The persistent coughing occurs as your child is attempting to clear their throat.

Pain in the chest: The laryngospasm from dry drowning causes extra stress on the chest and lungs, consequently leading to pain.

Lethargy – decreased energy.

Breathing difficulties – shortness of breath, fast breathing.

Sudden change in mood, agitated, confusion.

Pale or blue skin.

If you suspect your child could be suffering from dry drowning, seek medical attention, call 000 or go to your nearest emergency department.