Afraid you may be suffering the consequences of delayed drowning? Click here to compare your symptoms with the common effects of secondary drowning.

How can I tell if I’m suffering the effects of secondary drowning?

Most people think that the effects of drowning are pretty straightforward. When you accidentally inhale water instead of air, the water pools in your lungs, making it impossible for you to breathe. Your body tries to expel the water by coughing, but if you’re unable to displace the water with air, you’ll ultimately asphyxiate as your body loses oxygen. Many drowning instances occur when the victim is completely submerged in water and asphyxiates before he is pulled out. As a result, many people believe that you can only drown when you’re submerged. However, this isn’t always the case.

Chest xray of drowning victim








Delayed Drowning Symptoms

Dry drowning and secondary drowning, although separate conditions, have the common characteristic of delaying symptoms and effects. Dry drowning symptoms can occur immediately after the victim has emerged from the water all the way up until 24 hours later. However, the following symptoms of secondary drowning can take up to 24 hours to become apparent. These symptoms include:

  • Fatigue. When your body is unable to circulate oxygen through the body, your cells begin to die, and your muscles and tissues begin to weaken. When too much oxygen is depleted, your brain will begin to “shut down” unnecessary functions, making it hard for you to move, focus, or even stay awake.
  • Wheezing, and trouble breathing. When your lungs become coated and your airways struggle to open and close, inhaling will become more and more difficult. What air you do manage to take in will mix with the fluid sloshing in your lungs. As a result, the air you exhale may sound heavy or “wet.”
  • Chest and back pain. When your airways struggle to open and close, the pressure can cause sharp pains in the ribs and back.
  • Pneumonia or flu-like symptoms. Excess fluid in the lungs will cause flu-like symptoms as your body tries everything to expel it. This includes coughing, raising white blood cell counts, possible fever, and gagging or vomiting.
  • Throat swelling. Irritants in the water can cause irritation of the throat and lungs if inhaled. If you or your child can’t remember inhaling any water, check the throat for signs of irritants.
  • Headaches and mood changes. Decreased oxygen levels can cause an increased flow of blood to your head. Since your blood cells aren’t getting the proper amount of oxygen, and therefore aren’t delivering enough oxygen to the brain, your body tries to compensate by increasing the amount of blood it receives. This excess rush can cause your head to throb and affect your mood.  

Treatment and Help When You Need It

Secondary drowning, although rare, is a very dangerous outcome of accidentally inhaling water. Whether you were thrown overboard, misjudged your depth, or took a breath too early, if you believe you may have inadvertently aspirated or inhaled lake or ocean water, you need to seek immediate medical help. Don’t wait for the symptoms to arise. Have your doctor take a chest x-ray and examine your throat and lungs for possible signs of delayed drowning.

If you’ve recently suffered a maritime accident due to the negligence of another person that resulted in a near drowning or aspiration injury, contact attorney Andrew Kim today. Call 1.800.636.3676 to schedule a FREE, no-obligation consultation. We’ll review your case and thoroughly explain your injury claim options.