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Secondary (dry) ahogamiento: what is it, symptoms and what is happening

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The expressions “secondary ahogamiento” or “dry ahogamiento” are popularly used to describe situations in which the person ends up dying after having passed (a few hours before) by a situation of casi ahogamiento. However, these terms are not recognized by the medical community.

This is due to the fact that, if the person goes through an episode of a case of ahogamiento, but he does not show any symptoms and breathes normally, he does not have to worry about a “secondary ahogamiento”.

However, if the person was rescued and within the first 8 hours he presents any symptoms such as headache, somnolence or difficulty breathing, he should be evaluated at the hospital to make sure that there is no inflammation of the airways that can poner the life of the person at risk.



main symptoms

The person who presents a “dry ahogamiento” can breathe, speak and eat normally, but after some time can present the following signs and symptoms:

  • Headache;
  • somnolence;
  • Excessive tiredness;
  • Foam oozing out of the mouth;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Pain in the pecho;
  • constant tone;
  • mental confusion;
  • Fever.

These signs and symptoms may only appear 8 hours after the episode of the case, which can occur in beaches, lakes, rivers or swimming pools, but they can also appear after the inspiration of the vomiting.

What to do if you suspect a secondary ahogamiento

In case of case ahogamiento is very important that the person, family and friends are attentive to the appearance of symptoms during the first 8 hours.

If there is a question of “secondary care” you must call the local emergency number, explaining what is happening or taking the person immediately to the hospital, so that tests such as an X-ray and an oximetry are carried out to check the respiratory function.



After the diagnosis, the doctor can prescribe the use of oxygen and medication to facilitate the fluid accumulated in the lungs. In the most serious cases it is possible that the person may be hospitalized under mechanical ventilation.

Know what to do in case of ahogamiento and how to avoid this situation.

Verified by RJ9823 – Public Utility – cc2.0

Consult a Doctor | Translated by User2937

Content for educational purposes only

The translator user relied on the following text:

Tua Saude Website – REF93782 – Verified

Disclaimer – (English version>) This content has been prepared based on information from research, additional publications, or the translation/verification work of a volunteer editor of this web council. This is a non-profit service. It is strongly recommended that all details and information published be carefully verified. We never allow medication recommendations, medication package inserts or any medication guidance. We never allow partisan politics as information.

Isenção de responsabilidade – (versão em português): Este conteúdo foi preparado com base em informações de pesquisas, publicações adicionais ou no trabalho de tradução/verificação de um editor voluntário deste conselho web. Este é um serviço sem fins lucrativos. É altamente recomendável que todos os detalhes e informações publicadas sejam verificadas cuidadosamente. Nunca permitimos recomendações de medicamentos, bulas ou qualquer orientação sobre medicamentos. Nunca permitimos a política partidária como base para checagem. Para mais informações, leia nossos termos.

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