The ‘Dry Drowning’ Debate: What You Need to Know

June 12, 2018 — Lacey Grace of Bradenton, FL, and her two daughters were playing in the pool at her parent’s house in April when the freak accident happened.

Her 4-year-old daughter, Elianna, was playing with a pool noodle, blowing water through it at another family member. When that person went to blow it back at her, the little girl put her mouth on the other end of the noodle at the same moment. So the preschooler inhaled a geyser of water as it rushed through the noodle and straight into her mouth.

“Elianna started gagging right away. We immediately pulled her out of the water and she threw up on the side of the pool,” Grace says. “We all looked at each other like — is this dangerous? What just happened here?”

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shareDesc: “Elianna Grace, seen here and above, was diagnosed with what is sometimes mistakenly called ‘dry drowning’ after an incident at a pool.”,
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Within minutes, Elianna seemed back to her normal self, and 30 minutes later, she wanted to jump back into the pool.

But 2 days later, she got a low-grade fever. Then she stopped eating much and became extremely tired — sleeping nearly an entire day away. When the fever came back 4 days after the pool incident, Grace took her to urgent care.

As soon as an urgent care doctor heard Elianna’s labored breathing and discovered she had low oxygen levels, he sent her to a nearby hospital, where she was admitted for 4 days.

The little girl’s official diagnoses involved inflammation in her chest and a bacterial infection in her lungs, which happens when liquid gets into the lungs or airways leading to the lungs rather than the esophagus or stomach. She needed antibiotics for the infection and got oxygen through a mask for 2 days before she could breathe on her own.

Neither Grace’s family nor the girl’s doctors called what happened to her “dry drowning” or “secondary drowning,” but plenty of people on social media have since Grace shared Elianna’s story on Facebook.

“It doesn’t matter to me what you call it. It was triggered by something in the pool, and I want people to know that if your child inhales pool water and has these symptoms, I encourage you to get it checked out,” Grace says. “That was the awareness I wanted to put out there.”

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