Homeopathy for Dry & Secondary Drowning

Drowning facts and prevention: Something You May Not Know About Drowning

Many years ago, when my father and I were just starting to study Homeopathy, we were asked to help a young man who had been in a coma for a few days; a result of a near drowning. His canoe had flipped over in a river near our home and he was submerged underwater for a period of time. When we were asked to assist the young man, he was still in a coma and had fluid in his lungs. We suggested the family give him the Homeopathic remedies; Antimonium Tartaricum to help expel the fluid in the lungs and Carbo Vegetabilis to assist with the lack of oxygen. After a few days using the Homeopathic remedies, the young man came out of his coma. How gratifying it was to be able help that young man regain life.  This experience had a profound impact on me.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.

Drowning is a serious matter, but today I want to talk about the 1-2% of 4,000 people in the United States (about 40-80 people) that drown and die each year from what is called dry and secondary drowning. This is when someone swallows’ water unintentionally while playing or swimming in water, and later that day or occasionally days later, starts to exhibit symptoms, which can lead to death. A child swallowing pool or ocean water happens so often, that people don’t give it much thought.   Early identification and proper treatment can literally save someone’s life.

What is Dry and Secondary Drowning?

Dry drowning usually occurs when cold water enters the airway (mouth, nose) very quickly. This can happen when someone jumps face-first into water with their mouth open. The water rushes in so quickly that it passes down toward the vocal cords, instead of going toward the stomach. The sudden rush of cold water causes the vocal cords to spasm and tightly squeezes them shut. They do this to protect the lungs making sure nothing gets inside. In doing so however, the vocal cords essentially close off the airway and the person can’t breathe and suffocates. So, in the case of dry drowning, water never actually reaches the lungs at all—hence, “dry” drowning.

In Secondary drowning, a small amount of water gets into the lungs and causes inflammation or swelling that makes it difficult or impossible for the body to transfer oxygen to carbon dioxide and vice versa.

This is more similar to true drowning than to dry drowning, as water is actually making it into the lungs.

Inhaling this small amount of water (called aspiration), causes a brief bout of coughing or gasping and may end after a few moments. However, over the next several hours, the small amount of water that got into the lungs begins to wreak havoc in the body.

The inflammation, causes some of the body’s own fluids to start building up inside of the lungs; which makes it hard for the lungs to function. Air is coming into the lungs with each breath, but the lung tissue can’t pull the oxygen out, because of the fluid.

Over time, the affected person can’t get enough oxygen and suffocates even though they’re breathing. This can happen many hours later, or even days after the initial episode (swallowing water).

Symptoms – Dry and Secondary Drowning:

  • Lethargy or Extreme Fatigue
  • Difficulty Breathing – A sign that you should seek medical help immediately.
  • Forgetfulness or Change in Behavior – Irritability or mood swings
  • Chest Pain
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Persistent Coughing and Gagging
  • Fever
  • Sleepiness
  • Vomiting

Dry drowning sets in less than an hour after inhaling water. But secondary drowning, which is also rare, can happen up to 48 hours after a water accident. Both can cause trouble breathing and, in worst-case scenarios, death.

What Can You Do?

Any time you’re concerned about a person and think they could have symptoms of a dry or secondary drowning, whether they’re in the backyard pool or on a beach vacation, call the doctor right away for advice. The doctor should be able to guide you and might advise you to go to the ER or an urgent care center.

Going to the hospital promptly is your best defense. Doctors will closely monitor the person and when caught early, should be able to treat any issues by administering oxygen and removing fluids through diuretics.

Homeopathic Remedies that can be used for Dry or Secondary Drowning:

Homeopathy can be used along with being evaluated by a Doctor.

  • Frightened, Scared – Aconite Napellus (Child, Parent may need)
  • Anxious About What Just Happened – Gelsemium Sempervirens (Child, Parent may need)
  • Fluid in Lungs – Antimonium Tartaricum, Ipecacuanha
  • Shortness of Breath – Bryonia Alba, Carbo Vegetabilis
  • Persistent Coughing, Gagging – Bryonia Alba, Causticum, Ipecacuanha
  • Lack of Oxygen – Carbo Vegetabilis
  • Lethargy, Fatigue – Carbo Vegetabilis, Gelsemium Sempervirens
  • Vomiting – Arsenicum Album, Bryonia Alba, Carbo Vegetabilis, Phosphorus

Most Drownings are Preventable:

Simple steps to be taken to help with water safety.

  • Supervise children closely around water and do not become distracted by other activities.
  • Even bathtubs, toilets and buckets full of water can be dangerous.
  • Small children should wear approved life jackets or flotation devices when playing near water. Water wings, noodles and similar air-filled swimming aids are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
  • Learn how to swim.
  • When in the water, use the buddy system.
  • Swimming pools should have barriers (fences, gates, alarms) to prevent children from entering unattended.
  • Alcohol should be consumed in moderation when swimming or boating.
  • Water flotation devices should always be used during activities on the water, for example, kayaking, jet skis, boats.
  • Learn CPR.
  • Watch for anyone who seems to be swimming ineffectively or are bobbing in the water in an uncoordinated way, and whose head drops underwater. The victim may try to roll onto their back but may not always being successful.

Did You Know…….

  • People do not need to wait an hour after eating to return to swimming.
  • Hyperventilation before swimming underwater in an attempt to increase breath-holding time can increase the risk of drowning.
  • Children are more likely that adults to survive after prolonged submersion.

Please Have a Safe and Fun Summer!


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About the Author: Virangini Cindy

Virangini Cindy Rounsaville, C. Hom., is a homeopathic health consultant and educator who has been involved with homeopathy since the early 1980's. She has studied the field extensively with internationally known homeopath and author Dr. Robin Murphy, N.D., among others. She began teaching and consulting in 1983 and, along with her late father Louis Dion, C. Hom. began a homeopathic study group in Hunterdon County, NJ to help people learn and use homeopathy in their daily lives. Virangini Cindy works closely with medical doctors, chiropractors, and other homeopathic and holistic practitioners. She has incorporated Rasavidya Medical Astrology (different than regular astrology) into her practice as well. Having practiced QiGong since the 1980's, she uses medical QiGong poses alongside the medical astrology to help individuals with life issues and chakra balancing.