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Near-Drowning Injuries in Children


Near-drowning injuries occur when your child has been unable to breathe after being under water. Liquid enters his lungs and prevents him from getting enough oxygen.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.


At first, your child may need to rest in bed. He may breathe easier if he rests with the head of the bed raised. He may also breathe easier if he rests his head on 3 or 4 pillows. If he has trouble breathing, call his healthcare provider right away. When his breathing has improved, your child may get out of bed.

Neurologic signs:

Healthcare providers will check your child's eyes, memory, and how easily he wakes up. His hand grasp and balance may also be tested. This helps healthcare providers know how his brain is working. Your child may need to have his neurologic signs checked often.

Vital signs:

Your child's blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature will be checked regularly by healthcare providers. They will also ask about your child's pain. These vital signs give healthcare providers information about your child's current health.

Intake and output:

Healthcare providers may need to know how much liquid your child is getting and urinating. Your child may need to urinate into a container in bed or in the toilet. A healthcare provider will measure the amount of urine. If your child wears diapers, a healthcare provider may need to weigh them. Do not throw away diapers or flush urine down the toilet before asking a healthcare provider.


  • Antibiotics may be given to help treat or prevent a lung infection.
  • Glucose may be given to raise blood sugar.


  • Arterial blood gases (ABG) show oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. Blood is taken from a vein in your child's wrist, arm, or groin.
  • A pulse oximeter measures the amount of oxygen in your child's blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on his foot, toe, hand, finger, or earlobe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if you child's oxygen level is low or cannot be read.
  • Blood and urine tests can get information about your child's overall health.
  • An EEG , or electroencephalogram, shows the electrical activity of your child's brain. Small pads or metal discs are put on the head. Each has a wire that is hooked to a machine. This machine prints a paper tracing of brain wave activity from different parts of the brain.
  • A chest x-ray may show lung problems, such as pneumonia, collapsed lungs, or ARDS.


  • Oxygen may be given if your child's blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. He may get oxygen through a mask placed over his nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in his nostrils. Ask before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.
  • A ventilator is a machine that provides oxygen and breathes for your child when he cannot breathe well on his own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into his mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. He may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into his windpipe.


Endotracheal intubation and other procedures may cause bleeding and infection. Without treatment, near-drowning injuries may lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia, brain edema, and kidney failure. Near-drowning can also lead to seizures. These problems may become life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Near-Drowning Injuries in Children (Inpatient Care)

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