A 4-year-old girl from Sarasota, Florida nearly died from a case of dry drowning, but Elianna did not appear sick until after the incident.
The mother, Lacey Grace, posted on Facebook the details of Elianna's plight and how her daughter succumbed to chemical infection from the pool water.
On April 14, Elianna had been playing in the pool when she accidentally inhaled water. She did not show immediate signs that something was wrong until a few days after when she developed a fever. Eventually, Elianna's skin turned purple, which is a sign of inflammation and infection in the lungs.
Doctors concluded that Elianna suffered from aspiration pneumonia caused by the water in her lungs. She was administered with antibiotics and had to be hooked up to a ventilator to assist her breathing.
Signs And Symptoms
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not have the exact records of dry drowning incidents in the country. From 2005-2014, CDC estimated 3,536 fatal unintentional drowning cases annually. Most of the victims are below 14 years old and suffer nonfatal submersion injuries.
Dr. Juan Fitz, a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, explained that dry drowning occurs when a swimmer has left water in the lungs, causing edema or swelling.
"That's where you have the cardiac arrest because you're not carrying enough oxygen," said Dr. Fitz.
Most dry drowning incidents occur in children, but symptoms do not appear until one to 24 hours later. Some of the symptoms include a persistent cough, difficulty breathing, chest pain, lethargy, and fever.
Water safety experts said it might be difficult for parents to detect if these symptoms indicate a more serious problem. Alison Osinski, from the Aquatic Consulting Services, said unusual changes in behavior or mood should be a cause for concern.
The presence of water in the lungs causes tissue damage and interference with oxygen delivery. The person then experiences laryngospasm, the obstruction of the airway up to the vocal chords.
The most severe adverse event that could lead to death is pulmonary edema, according to Dr. Mike Patrick, an emergency medicine physician at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
How To Prevent Dry Drowning
Parents or guardians play a crucial role to prevent incidents of dry drowning. Dr. Purva Grover, a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic, said that children who are suspected to have suffered from dry drowning should be brought to the emergency room immediately.
"Being deprived of oxygen for even a few minutes is fatal. Kids with heart defects and respiratory difficulties like asthma are at particular risk," Dr. Grover said.
Dr. Grover said that the younger the child, the more that parents should watch them closely. He added that even if the child is submerged even for a minute or two, they should be brought to the hospital.