What is secondary drowning? Symptoms explained - and what happened to Charlie Simpson from Busted’s son

Busted star Charlie Simpson has spoken about his family’s “terrifying experience” when his young son Jago suffered secondary drowning

Simpson’s son, Jago, was taken to an accident-and-emergency (A&E) unit after having inhaled water while swimming one morning on holiday.

He spent the next three days in hospital, receiving what his father described as "amazing care".

Simpson said: "It was the worst thing we have ever experienced.

"The scariest thing of all, is that had we not taken him to hospital when we did, the outcome could have been very different."

"I truly hope no-one ever has to experience this - but I hope to be able to raise some awareness of this frightening condition in case they do."

But what exactly is secondary drowning, and what are the signs and symptoms?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is secondary drowning?

Secondary drowning is a rare condition similar to drowning which is caused by lungs filling up with water. It can lead to potentially fatal breathing difficulties and takes less than half a glass of inhaled water to drown.

Secondary drowning, also known as dry drowning, occurs when an individual inhales water due to a near drowning or struggle in the water.

However, they can be out of the water and walking around as if all is normal before signs of dry drowning become apparent.

What are the symptoms of secondary drowning?

Symptoms of secondary drowning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Laboured breathing and lethargy

The symptoms can start up to 72 hours later, making them hard to diagnose.

Keep a close eye on inexperienced swimmers and children in the water

What is the treatment?

Children or adults who demonstrate these symptoms need to go to A&E where a medical history will usually be taken, a physical exam conducted, and any necessary blood and radiology testing.

Treatment often includes oxygen, with some patients requiring a respirator.

How can it be prevented?

Keep a close eye on inexperienced swimmers and children in the water.

You can also teach swimmers to blow water out, know their limits and not panic in the water.