Drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional injury death worldwide and is the leading cause of injury deaths for American children from 1-4 years of age. As unlikely as it may seem, even an adult can drown in as little as two inches of water. Even if a person drowns and lives, the damage to the body can be with them for the rest of their lives.
A person drowns when the lungs fill with water and cut off the supply of oxygen from the air. As simple as it may sound, there are actually several different ways downing occurs. The person’s airway will naturally close once any water enters the lungs. Once the airway closes, no more water will enter the lungs. Thus, technically, the lungs may not actually be filled with water when the person dies, only after.
- Dry drowning. When a small amount of water enters the lungs and the airway closes, the person will eventually go into cardiac arrest from lack of oxygen. If the person is still submerged, water will only fill the lungs after cardiac arrest in a dry drowning.
- Wet drowning. Once again, the airway will close when water is introduced to the lungs. However, in most cases, after the body is unconscious, the airway will re-open and the person’s lungs will fill with water before death occurs.
Drowning Effects On The Body
The main effect of drowning on the body is the lack of oxygen. This alone will cause death and can lead to further complications even for survivors of drowning. There are two things that happen when airflow is stopped to the lungs for any reason.
- Hypoxia. This is a lowered level of oxygen in the blood. It can cause damage to the brain, heart and other organs and, of course, death.
- Ischemia. This is lack of blood flow to the body’s extremities. This will also cut off oxygen and nutrient supply to the brain, kidneys and other organs in the body.
The combination of these two effects can cause swelling in the brain, which increases pressure, causing irreparable brain damage. There are can be damage to the lungs, circulatory and nervous systems.
Gradual Shut-Down of The Body
Another lasting effect for submerged drowning victims is the water damage to the lungs and the lowered body temperature. Any type of water in the lungs will remove the protective coating on the lungs interior, the surfactant. Without this, the lung tissue can become waterlogged and there can breathing problems such as acute respiratory distress syndrome.
The lowering of the body temperature while submerged can lead to hypothermia and cause heart arrhythmia. Although this in itself can cause serious danger to the body, it can also be a lifesaver in some case. The lowering of the body temperature can delay the effects of hypoxia and set off an involuntary reflex to pull blood out of the extremities to protect the organs.
Drowning is still a danger, especially to young children. Even if a person does survive a drowning, there are many issues that may be with them for the rest of their life. The only way to avoid the symptoms of drowning is prevention: supervise children around water, use life jackets and safe guard pools and hot tubs with enclosures.
Pool owners and staff failing to supervise
As property owners, people have a duty to either restrict access to their pool, pond or lake. Particularly when children are invited to their premises, they have a responsibility to look after the children to ensure their safety. When a child is injured or drowns at another person’s property, the situation may give rise to a legal claim. Headed by a national-caliber collegiate swimmer Jonathan Rosenfeld, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC fully prosecutes drowning cases through their intimate knowledge of water safety. Don’t allow these tragedies to go in vain.