Drowning is a condition that occurs when the airway is submerged or immersed in liquid, resulting in asphyxiation. This condition is often fatal because inhaled water can cause reflex apnea, where the epiglottis closes in spasm, preventing breathing. It is important to note that the amount of inhaled water does not have to be large to cause this reflex apnea. Even a small amount can cause a decrease in available oxygen in the body, called hypoxia. If the hypoxia continues, it can lead to death.
At the heart level, drowning can also have serious consequences. Hypoxia causes an initial acceleration of the heart rate, followed by a slowing and eventually a complete stop. The risks of drowning are not limited to asphyxiation and heart problems, as cold water can cause hypothermia which can also be life threatening.
It is important to take safety precautions to avoid drowning, such as supervising children near water, wearing life jackets and first aid training. In the event of a drowning, it is essential to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to increase the chances of survival.
Definition and Meaning
Drowning is a situation where a person is submerged or immersed in a liquid, resulting in asphyxiation due to a decrease in available oxygen in the body. This condition can be fatal as it can lead to reflex apnea and heart problems. The risk of drowning can be avoided by taking appropriate safety measures, such as supervising children near water and wearing life jackets.
The consequences of drowning
The consequences of drowning depend on the extent of the hypoxia and its duration. At the cardiac level, the heart speeds up at first, then slows down and stops within a few minutes. However, this time may be longer in the case of drowning in cold water. It is important to note that drowning in fresh or salt water has no effect on the consequences. In both cases, there is a destruction of the pulmonary alveoli, causing blood effusion in the tissues and pulmonary edema.
Other dangers of drowning
Besides asphyxiation, drowning presents other dangers such as hypothermia. Indeed, in water at 10°C, death occurs after one to two hours, regardless of the amount of water inhaled. However, hypothermia can be beneficial by providing protection against tissue hypoxia, thus increasing the victim's chances of survival, even if care is given a little later. It is therefore important to be aware of the various dangers associated with drowning and to take the necessary precautions to avoid this situation.
Prevention and first aid
It is important to take preventive measures to avoid drowning accidents. This can include safety measures such as
- safety barriers around pools,
- Learn-to-swim classes for children and adults,
- strict rules for swimming in open water.
First aid is also important to save a person who is drowning. This can include rescue techniques such as:
- hand rescue,
- buoy rescue,
- rope rescue.
It is also important to have CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training to be able to provide first aid in the event of drowning.
The bottom line
Drowning is a form of asphyxiation that can be fatal. The mechanisms of drowning include reflex apnea caused by inhalation of a small amount of water, resulting in a decrease in available oxygen in the body. The consequences of drowning depend on the extent of hypoxia and its duration. Other dangers of drowning include hypothermia. It is important to take preventive measures to avoid drowning accidents and to know how to provide first aid to save a person who is drowning.