Doctor says parents should know the signs of dry drowning

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) –  Frankie Delgado died six days after his family returned from a weekend trip in Galveston Bay.

His parents say the four-year-old was briefly knocked over by a wave while playing in shallow water but got back up and kept playing.

A few days later he was taken to the hospital after complaining of body pains and was pronounced dead.

Doctors say this form of drowning is very rare and as you heard, doesn’t show any signs until hours or days later.

Dr. Joseph Allen of Family Medicine of Vandalia said dry drowning isn’t usually deadly but it is a serious condition and it’s important for parents to know the signs.

Dr. Allen explained dry drowning usually occurs after a traumatic event like a near-drowning incident.

It causes irritation to the vocal cords and muscle spasms.

Those spasms then cut off airflow to the lungs.

The symptoms usually occur with 24 hours after a near-drowning but can take a longer. Allen said it’s important for parents to be cognizant that it can happen and to know the symptoms.

“As always, watch kids closely,” said Dr. Joseph Allen from Family Medicine of Vandalia. “If there’s a near-drowning incident or something does occur that worries you, just watch the child for a good 24 hours later.”

Dr. Allen continued, “Know the signs, so if you see the kid struggling to breathe, if you see something that concerns you – lips turning blue, whatever it may be, don’t hesitate to take them straight to the emergency room. Get them the help they need, quick.”

Dr. Allen also said although dry drowning usually affects kids, it can also happen to adults. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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