What is ‘dry drowning?’
Dry drowning happens when water irritates the larynx (vocal chords), and the person has a severe inflammatory reaction to it. The reaction causes the vocal chords to spasm (laryngospasm reflex) and that causes them to close. The person then has trouble or cannot pass air into their lungs. Laryngospasm can cause something called neurogenic pulmonary edema which causes an increase in pressure in the lungs and heart, reducing the body’s ability to get oxygen. Laryngospasm can be triggered by something as simple as droplets if water hitting the larynx. High-speed submersion, such as when you go down a water slide or jump from a high dive, can also cause the reaction.
Water safety and medical experts are encouraging parents to think of drowning as a process and not an end result of being underwater for too long. The prospect of a child drowning after leaving the pool or beach is one not many parents have considered.
On average, 10 people will die in the United States a day as a result of drowning.
Read more about the symptoms “dry drowning” and how to prevent it here.