Secondary Drowning: Get The Facts


It’s the beginning of summer and, therefore, the beginning of pool days and beach trips. If there was ever a time for water safety, it is now. However, many parents are unaware of something called secondary drowning.

Secondary drowning happens when a child’s airways open while he is in the water, allowing the water to enter his lungs. The water builds up, causing pulmonary edema, which is excess fluid in the lungs making it difficult to breathe. This can occur after something as simple as being dunked or accidentally getting water in his mouth. It can happen to adults, but it is much more common in children due to their size.

Symptoms of secondary drowning appear hours after the water enters the lungs and include coughing, trouble breathing, chest pain, and fatigue. A drop in energy levels or increased irritability may mean oxygen is not getting to the brain.

Usually symptoms will go away on their own, but it is always best to get medical attention, as secondary drowning comprises one to two percent of all drowning cases. There are no medicines to help, but chest X-rays and an IV can be administered and your child can be observed at the hospital until the symptoms are gone.

Of course, the best way to avoid secondary drowning is teaching your children water safety, keeping a close eye on them while in a pool or at the beach, and swimming with them. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends life jackets over air-filled swimming aids (such as inflatable arm bands). The air-filled swimming aids can deflate and may not keep swimmers safe.

AAP also suggests swimming lessons for children ages four years and older. Taking lessons can reduce drowning risks. However, children develop at different rates, so they will not all be ready to swim at the same age.

There are various programs through local pools and organizations that can help prepare you and your child for a safe, water-filled summer.

Be the first to review this item!


Bookmark this

03 Jun 2016


By Madeline Rathle

Recent Articles more articles

Knowing These Tips Can Help Your Child’s Skin

in Sponsored Content

In Baton Rouge, we do not get many weeks of cold weather, but when we do get that rare drop in humidity, our skin pays the price. Kids and adults alike have drier skin in the winter months; however those with underlying eczema have a worse time. Know

Out and About with Jami and Katrina

in Things To Do, Family Life

Baton Rouge’s very own dynamic duo, Jami Redmond and Katrina Liza, are the Capital’s most sought-after influencers. Through video, live reports, and tutorials, Jami and Katrina are going exploring to share what’s new in Baton Rouge and the surroundin

Hang In There, Camper! Tips for Helping Anxious Kids Enjoy Summer Camp

in Health and Wellness, Family Life

As May approaches, school children typically have one thing on their mind, summer break. Thoughts of school are replaced with what they are going to do or where they are going, with some going on vacation; some visiting relatives; and some staying ho

Rankin Ranch in Caliente, California

in Get Out of Town

If you’re considering a trip to California, the thought of crowded freeways, crowded amusement parks–crowded everything–can be rather daunting, yet, there are pockets of paradise in the Golden State, like Rankin Ranch. The ranch has been in operatio

Featured Listings more listings

Dr. Stephanie Kelleher

Dr. Stephanie Kelleher

in Favorite Pediatrician

Dr. Kelleher is a Board Certified Pediatrician and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

LSU Pre-College Programs

in Day Camps, Residential Camps

The LSU Pre-College program offers exciting courses and camps in arts, humanities, science, and math designed for your Tiger. Summer learning and creative adventures await your child in our kindergarten through 12th grade camps and courses.

Newsletter