Secondary drowning occurs when a small amount of inhaled fluid acts as an irritant, causing inflammation and leakage of liquid into the lungs. It can occur in a pool, in the ocean, or even in a bathtub. Sometimes the body many even respond by pushing more liquid into the lungs. This reduces the ability to breathe and can lead to a person drowning in their own body fluids. This can happen up to 72 hours after a near drowning incident. Secondary drowning is more common than you think.
Secondary drowning is a threat to small children and all parents should read more about it. As one doctor put it,
“If your child breathes in water or comes out of the pool coughing or sputtering, monitor them closely, keeping an eye out for difficulties in breathing, extreme tiredness or behavioral changes. All of these are signs that your little swimmer may have inhaled too much fluid.”