?? Drowning in Salt Water

Nurses General Nursing


OK Mr. and Mrs. Wizards, I have a question for you........

When I was in high school I took a Life Guarding and CPR class. I seem to remember my instructor telling us that when giving CPR it is harder to revive a person who has been submersed in Sea Water compared to Fresh Water.

If I remember correctly it had something to do with the salt in the salt water binding in the lungs and making it difficult for oxygen to pass through.

Can someone explain this to me in more specific terms? I have only had A&PI so far so please don't make it too difficult to understand.

Wanted to know because I am inquisitive and it came to mind because a dear friend of mine's father just passed away from drowning.

Thanks for any info. you have,


warrior woman

285 Posts

In fresh water drownings, water washes away the surfactant which is found on the inner surface of the alveoli which is needed to maitain the elasticity of the lungs. As it is washed away, the alveoli collapse and air exchange is no longer possible. In salt water drowning, water is taken from the blood stream and moved into the lungs causing massive pulmonary edema to develop. Hope this info helps you out. Let me know if you need anything else. Warrior Woman.

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