Drowning is immersion in water causing death by asphyxia, metabolic or blood disturbance, following inhalation of water. On immersion, reflex breath-holding occurs but is eventually overcome; if immersion continues, water is taken into the lungs. Spasm of the larynx leads to further asphyxia and abnormal heart rhythm. If death does not follow, water absorbed from the lungs alters the mineral concentration of the blood and red blood cells may be damaged. Acidosis, lung edema, and distension of the stomach may occur.
Prompt resuscitation at an early stage by clearing the airway, artificial respiration, and, if necessary, cardiac massage and correct of blood abnormalities, may be successful.