A Florida mother’s Facebook post went viral after she shared the terrifying story of how her daughter almost died from […]
A Florida mother’s Facebook post went viral after she shared the terrifying story of how her daughter almost died from a phenomenon called dry drowning.
Lacey Grace says her daughter Elianna was playing with a pool noodle on Saturday and went to blow water out one end at the same time as someone tried to blow it toward her, “causing the water to shoot directly down her throat.” Elianna threw up but seemed otherwise okay within 30 minutes after the accident.
“The next day, even, she was fine. Come Monday she developed a fever. Kids get fevers, this is normal. I didn’t think much. Tuesday she slept most of the day but still overall looked fine. Sent her to school Wednesday and got a call in the afternoon that her fever was back,” Lacey wrote. “I kept replaying that pool scene in my head and remembered reading a story last year about a dad in Texas whose son passed away because he went untreated after inhaling a bunch of pool water. I wasn’t going to let that be Elianna.”
Lacey took her daughter to urgent care, where she was told to get Elianna to the ER immediately. “Her heart rate was crazy high, her oxygen was low, and her skin was turning purple,” she wrote. A chest X-ray at the ER revealed that Elianna had inflammation in her legs and an infection caused from the pool chemicals.
“Two hours later they transferred her by ambulance to an even larger hospital so they could monitor her around the clock and have pediatric specialists keep an eye on her. She began treatment in the ambulance on the way over,” Lacey wrote.
Elianna was diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia, is now on oxygen, and is relying on it to breathe, Lacey said. “They’ve tried to remove the tubes and give her a chance to breathe on her own but her levels drop quickly,” she wrote. “She’s had her second dose of antibiotic but we haven’t seen much relief yet. Her fevers have continued. Her heart rate has lowered so that is the only good news so far. At least two doctors now have told us ‘thank God you got her here when you did.’ All the major things going wrong are things you would NEVER notice by looking at her.”
Lacey says she wouldn’t have taken Elianna to the doctor if she hadn’t read about this before on Facebook, and hopes other people learn from her story. “If your child inhales a bunch of water, and something seems off AT ALL, I encourage you to immediately get help,” she wrote. “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.”
I contemplated whether or not this was worth posting, and at the end of the day, I am where I am because of something…
What Is Dry Drowning?
Elianna suffered from something known as “dry drowning” or “atypical drowning,” which is what happens after a child inhales or ingests water during a near-drowning episode, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
There are two things that can happen in this situation. A child’s larynx, i.e. voice box, can shut to keep water from getting in, which also prevents air from getting in, or fluid can collect in the lungs, making it difficult for the child to breathe.
When water gets in the lungs, it can also carry with it bacteria that can cause an infection like pneumonia, says Raymond Casciari, M.D., a pulmonologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif. Dry drowning can cause difficulty breathing, coughing, vomiting, unusual behavior, or extreme sleepiness, says Danelle Fisher, M.D., chief of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif.
If these respiratory difficulties progress, or the child suffers a brain injury as a result of oxygen deprivation, dry drowning can lead to hospitalization and even death, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
How To Prevent Dry Drowning
Typically, cases of dry or secondary drowning happen after someone is stuck in an unpredictable situation in the water, but giving your child swim lessons, supervising your child closely when they’re near a body of water, and wearing life jackets can help, Fisher says. But even then, the unexpected can happen.
If your child or loved one experiences a dangerous situation in the water, take them to the ER afterward, just to be safe, Fisher says. There, your child will likely be given a chest X-ray and IV, and can be monitored for signs of respiratory issues.
Luckily, Fisher says that dry drowning is fairly rare. Still—it can happen, and it’s important to know what to do just in case.