Health Minute: What Is Dry Drowning

It's a sad story, but the little boy pictured above is 10 year old Johnny Jackson. On Sunday, Johnny died at a South Carolina hospital from what has been classified as "dry drowning". The story was broadcast last night on NBC Nightly News. The boys mother, Cassandra Jackson told NBC:
“I’ve never known a child could walk around, talk, speak and his lungs be filled with water,”
On Sunday, Cassandra took Johnny and his sister to a pool near their home in Goose Creek, S.C. It was Johnny's first time ever swimming. It's apparent that at some point during the day in the pool, Johnny got quite a bit of water in his lungs. The mom claims that he showed no signs of anything being wrong with him, but due to him having an accident in the pool and soiling himself, they decided to leave and go home for the day. Cassandra and her two kids walked back to their home. Once home, Johnny took a bath and went to bed because he told him mom that he was sleepy. After a few hours, Cassandra came in to check on Johnny, and he had water coming out of his nose. He told him mother he couldn't breathe.
“I walked over to the bed, and his face was literally covered with this spongy white material,” she said. “And I screamed.” Little Johnny died at the local hospital, where it was determined that he died from delayed asphyxiation or what some call “dry drowning", in which someone who swallows water excessively later drowns from the water that had build up in the lungs.
Dry drowning can occur up to 24 hours after a small amount of water gets into the lungs. In children this can happen even while taking a bath. There are three important signs of dry drowning, Dr. Daniel Rauch, a pediatrician from New York University Langone Medical Center, told TODAY: difficulty breathing, extreme tiredness and changes in behavior. All of these symptoms are a result of reduced oxygen flow to the brain. Rauch said that the phenomenon of dry drowning is not completely understood. But medical researchers say that in some people, a small amount of inhaled water can have a delayed-reaction effect. If you experience someone who may be having these symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention.

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