Though the dangers of young children having access to open bodies of water — most commonly, backyard swimming pools — are well known, there's more to be wary of than some may realize when it comes to having fun in the water this summer. According to CBS News, one mom is warning parents about "dry drowning" after her 4-year-old nearly died and it serves a sobering reminder of a very real threat that many parents may not be aware of.
Lacey Grace took to Facebook on April 19 to share an update about her daughter's condition with her friends. Grace's daughter, Elianna, ended up hospitalized with aspiration pneumonia and had been reliant on oxygen tubes to keep her levels stable after a seemingly innocuous day of playing in the pool, as Grace shared on Facebook. This condition is what's known as "dry drowning," and it is lethal if not caught early enough, as Prevention noted.
Grace's post has since gone viral — it now has over 87,000 shares and more than 34,000 reactions. Grace explained in the Facebook post that it was because she saw another story about a little boy the same age as her daughter, who died of the same condition, that she realized something could be seriously wrong.
Grace explained in her Facebook post that her daughter was playing in their family pool with her friends when the incident occurred. They were playing with a pool noodle, and Elianna was blowing water in one end and out the other. Then, one of her friends happened to blow water in at the same time that Elianna had her mouth up to the end of the noodle. The water went directly into her lungs, which is different from it just going into her mouth, making her vomit immediately. However, as Grace explained in her post, she had no symptoms immediately afterwards and went on playing as normal.
However, by that Monday, Elianna had come down with a fever that lasted until Wednesday. It was then that Grace suspected something wasn't right. She took her daughter to an urgent care center where she was instructed to take her daughter to the nearest ER, according to Grace's post. At that point in time, Elianna's heart rate was elevated, her oxygen levels were low, and her skin "was turning purple," which doctors deduced indicated a chemical infection, Grace explained in her post.
Once transferred to the hospital, according to Grace's post, doctors concluded that Elianna had Chemical Pneumonitis, Aspiration Pneumonia and Perihilar Edema, and contracted it from inhaling the water while she was playing outside.
If your child inhales a bunch of water, and something seems off AT ALL, I encourage you to immediately get help. I wonder if I would have taken her Monday, would she be better off?? And I wonder if I waited longer what would have happened. It’s so scary.
ABC News reported that while dry drowning is scary, it is also extremely rare. The news outlet cited that while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not specifically track incidents of it, it estimates that while there are approximately 4,000 drowning or near drowning incidents in the United States annually, only 1 to 5 percent of all cases are caused by dry drowning. Parents reported that the following are symptoms to watch out for:
- Water rescue: Any child rescued from a pool or body of water needs to be seen by a medical professional.
- Coughing: Persistent coughing or coughing associated with "increased work of breathing" needs to be seen by a medical professional.
- Increased "work of breathing": This includes rapid, shallow breathing, nostril flaring, or seeing a child's ribs when they breathe. It indicates they are working harder to breathe than they should be.
- Sleepiness or unexplained exhaustion: Fatigue may be a symptom that there's not enough oxygen circulating in the body.
- Throwing up: Vomiting can be a symptom of inflammation, and sometimes, a lack of oxygen, spurred by coughing and gagging.
Grace also made it a point to note that you couldn't tell anything was wrong with Elianna just by looking at her, which is what makes dry drowning so scary. "We don’t know how long the road will be but I thank my lucky stars that I read that article of the little boy," Grace concluded in her post. "I will find that article and write that Dad a letter, I promise you. I would have never taken her to the urgent care without that and God only knows how this would have ended," she said, reiterating the importance of parents sharing stories like these.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.