Skip to Content
Near-drowning is a common but out-of-date phrase for surviving a drowning event.
Drowning happens when a person is underwater and breathes water into the lungs. The airway (larynx) can spasm and close, or water can damage the lungs and keep them from taking in oxygen. In either case, the lungs can't supply oxygen to the body. This can be deadly.
Going without oxygen has a rapid effect on the body.
Right after a drowning, a person may:
Even a little water in the lungs can cause serious lung problems in the next hours or days. Emergency medical care is critical after a person survives a drowning.
Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if a drowning victim has:
Call a doctor now if a recent drowning victim has new breathing problems or signs of a lung infection, such as:
Other Works Consulted
Christiani DC (2012). Physical and chemical injuries of the lung. In L Goldman, A Shafer, eds., Goldman's Cecil Medicine, 24th ed., vol. 3, pp. 574–581. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Shephard E, Quan L (2012). Drowning and submersion injury. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th ed., pp. 341–348. Philadelphia: Saunders.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Current as ofJune 4, 2014
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
© Copyright 2015 Rush-Copley Medical Center • 2000 Ogden Avenue; Aurora, IL 60504
Main: 630-978-6200 • Physician Referral & Information: 630-978-6700 or 866-4COPLEY (866-426-7539)