DESCRIPTIONNear-drowning refers to the immediate aftereffects of prolonged submersion under water. The lungs, blood, and heart are involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Hospitalization for observation for delayed serious reactions to being submerged or severely chilled.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSConfusion or unconsciousness.
Little or no breathing or heartbeat.
CAUSESSpasm of your child's larynx (the tube from the throat to the lungs). After rescue, this spasm prevents oxygen from reaching the lungs.
Water in the child's lungs, causing life-threatening changes in the circulating blood.
Submersion under water results in either of the following:
RISK FACTORSAn accident--especially head injury--while swimming.
Excess alcohol consumption.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Encourage all family members--including infants--to learn to swim.
Install a fence around your home swimming pool.
Never swim alone.
Don't drink alcohol and swim.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood tests.
Pulmonary edema (body fluid in the lungs).
Permanent brain damage.
Heart irregularities, including cardiac arrest and death.
Depends on the length of time your child was under water. With early rescue and treatment, full recovery is possible. Special body mechanisms may permit full recovery from near-drowning in icy water.
If the child is unconscious and not breathing, yell for help. Don't leave the victim.
Begin mouth-to-mouth breathing immediately.
If the child has no heartbeat, give external cardiac massage.
Have someone call 0 (operator) or 911 (emergency) for an ambulance or medical help.
Don't stop CPR until help arrives.
The near-drowning child should be taken to the nearest hospital for intensive care--even if the child has regained consciousness. Complications or death may occur 24 to 48 hours after the accident due to heart-rhythm disturbances.
Remain with a recovering child to provide support and reassurance. Near-drowning is a traumatic experience.
Cortisone drugs to prevent or treat lung inflammation.
Antibiotics to prevent lung infection.
Bronchodilators to enable oxygen to enter the lungs.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
The doctor may prescribe:
Complete bed rest until activity is permitted by the doctor.
DIET & FLUIDS
Intravenous nutrients, if the child is unconscious upon hospitalization. After recovery, no special diet is necessary.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When appetite has returned and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Someone appears to have drowned. Call for emergency help immediately! See HOME CARE for additional emergency information.
Signs of infection (fever, cough, muscle aches, and fatigue) appear after apparent recovery.