LifestyleParamedic debunks 'secondary drowning' myth, calls for awareness

Paramedic debunks 'secondary drowning' myth, calls for awareness

A lifeguard talks about the myth of "secondary drowning"
A lifeguard talks about the myth of "secondary drowning"
Images source: © Adobe Stock, Instagram | ane_ratownica

10 July 2024 18:57

Ane Ratownica shares her knowledge of first aid with her followers through social media. Recently, she decided to debunk the myth of secondary drowning. "It's a myth," she pointed out.

At the beginning of her post, Ane Ratownica cites an article fragment that starts with a story from a TV series. A child drowns, and the parents rush to rescue them. After performing resuscitation and restoring vital functions, the family, as if nothing had happened, goes back home, where the child "drowns in their sleep."

In her post, the paramedic emphasised that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), drownings should not be classified as "primary" or "secondary." She also highlights that if a child is not breathing, it is necessary to call an ambulance and perform resuscitation. Even if vital functions are restored, a doctor should consult the child. "You cannot take the child home after resuscitation," she emphasised.

Debunks the "secondary drowning" myth

The paramedic pointed out that the cited article scares the audience with secondary drowning. For this reason, she decided to present some facts.

"From the article, one might infer that the child might appear to be fine and suddenly die within three days. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine emphasises that such a case has never been described in medical literature," the paramedic emphasised.

The influencer further noted that it is better to search for the appropriate term in PubMed rather than another popular search engine when it comes to medical facts. It is stated that "terms such as ‘dry’ and ‘secondary’ drownings are no longer in use." These terms were last used in 1980 and 1986.

"All the doctors quoted in the article talk about pulmonary oedema following drowning, which occurred in resuscitated individuals. They speak of deaths in hospitals. No one drowns 'in their own bed,'" added the paramedic.

Ane pointed out that specific, real complications must be addressed after a severe submersion episode. If they occur, symptoms are visible within the first day after the incident. However, she admitted that she disagrees with the media's narrative of "secondary drowning."

- Scare tactics have the opposite effect. I already know parents who don't send their children to swimming lessons because they are afraid of "secondary drowning," and the lack of swimming skills is the simplest path to water-related death - she concluded.

How to recognise pulmonary oedema?

The paramedic emphasises that any child who shows unusual symptoms after submersion, such as coughing, drowsiness, or weakness, should be immediately consulted by a doctor.

Pulmonary oedema can occur much faster than suggested, even within 4-8 hours. The paramedic also notes that avoiding contact with water is not an adequate protection method for children. Instead, she recommends learning to swim and constant supervision during bathing because the lack of swimming skills and adult supervision usually leads to drownings, not playtime in the water itself.

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