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Content provided by Thomas W. Tryon, MD, MBA, FAAP; UCA Pediatric Section Chair
Summer is not only my favorite time of the year but it is also the favorite time of year for most if not all of my pediatric patients. I always look forward to the longer days and to being able to be outdoors enjoying the sunshine and different water excursions. However, the one thing I don’t look forward to is the worried parents presenting to urgent care concerned that their child is at risk for “dry drowning”. Even though all of the experts have clearly articulated that there is no such diagnosis of dry drowning, the myth keeps being perpetuated, mainly on social media sites.
In 2002 the World Congress on Drowning created this uniform definition for drowning: “The process of experiencing respiratory impairment due to submersion or immersion in a liquid.” If a person truly drowns, there can be three outcomes: fatal drowning; non-fatal drowning with morbidity; or non-fatal drowning without morbidity. The World Congress also recommended against the use of modifiers like wet, dry, active, passive, secondary or delayed. (https://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/other_injury/drowning/en/)
There is an excellent review called ‘On “Dry Drowning”’ from DrowningLit that I often provide to anxious parents presenting with a child who had a choking episode while swimming. This article is worthwhile to help reassure them and for them to help reassure others at home who still have concerns. Here is the article’s link: http://www. drowninglit.com/2017/06/on-dry-drowning.html
The review emphasizes that children should be evaluated if they have a prolonged submersion with subsequent difficulty breathing or ongoing cough, foam from the mouth, vomiting, or altered behavior. These patients can safely be released after a period of observation if they remain asymptomatic in urgent care. With all of us working together, we can make an impact to reassure parents and patients and calm their fears. Thank you for your efforts. Here’s hoping that you and your family and your patients enjoy a safe and healthy summer.
Urgent Care Association
28600 Bella Vista Pkwy, Suite 2010
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