Hattiesburg doctor gives the facts of 'dry drowning'

Hattiesburg doctor gives the facts of 'dry drowning'

Some call it dry drowning, some secondary drowning or near drowning. You may have heard the terms recently, like in the death of four-year-old Frankie Delgado in Texas. His father told a news outlet what his son's doctors believe killed him.

"That it's something about him ingesting water in his lungs," Francisco Delgado said.

A Colorado father said reading about little Frankie's story saved his son from the same fate.

"[I] came across an article about a four year old little boy who went swimming, and he passed away from something called secondary drowning," Garon Vega said.

It's something Merit Health Wesley's Emergency Medicine Medical Director Dr. Daniel Crane said he's seen before.

"Fortunately, it very, very rare," Crane said.

"Children or adults that get water into their lungs and they may have a coughing fit, they may act like they are drowning and have issues right away, and then they are o.k. for a little while even a couple of hours to days," Crane said.

Crane said eventually fluid in the lungs gets worse and finally the warning signs show up.

"They may even get a fever," Crane said. "They may not be eating as well, kind of tired or listless, having trouble breathing or coughing a lot."

In those cases, Crane said don't wait, take your child to the E.R. immediately.

"That's a kind of scary thing you would never want to happen to your child," Crane said.

A scary thing Lamar County mother Tish Line never knew could happen.

"That's terrifying!," Line said.

"I have three children who swim five days a week and I have never heard of this," Line said.

Line admitted she's disappointed that as a swimmer of 38 years she didn't know about secondary drowning, but her kids' swim coach said Line has already taken the first step to prevention.

"Get in to those swim lessons young. We recommend about four or five years of age," Hattiesburg's YMCA's Director of Competitive Aquatics, Corey Cross-Cassily said.

Cross-Cassily warned parents that after the lessons, don't assume your child is a confident swimmer. He said always watch them, and for parents to take some initiative.

"Learn to swim yourself, that way you know what signs to look for as well," Cross-Cassily said.

Cross-Cassily said when your child is in water limit rough housing, watch for excessive coughing, vomiting, and energy levels. Above all, he said make sure your kids know an important lesson.

"Water can be fun and it can be dangerous all at the same time," Cross-Cassily said.

If you suspect the worst, don't brush it off.

"We'll do everything we can up to and including putting an airway in to help them breathe if they are having that much trouble," Crane said. "A lot of these patients do have to get admitted to the hospital, at least for observation, but we are here to take care of them that is what we do."

Dr. Crane said if parents want to research this condition be aware of the terms. He said the CDC doesn't like the terms: dry drowning, secondary drowning or delayed drowning. They prefer only using the term drowning for the catch all term.