Snakebites should always taken seriously. While some are dry bites that are not so dangerous and can cause mild swelling, others are venomous snakebites that can lead to death if not treated carefully and quickly. If you bitten by a snake, it is important that you seek medical attention immediately as it can be a matter of life and death.
What is a snakebite?
Snakes bite to catch their prey or in self-defense. However, as there are many types of snakes, both venomous and non-venomous, not all snakebites are the same.
Different species carry different types of venom. The main categories are.
- Cytotoxic. Causes swelling and tissue damage in the area where you bitten.
- Haemorrhagic toxin. Destroys blood vessels.
- Anticoagulant Prevents blood clotting.
- Neurotoxin. Causes paralysis or other damage to the nervous system.
- Myotoxin: breaks down muscles.
Are snakebites dangerous?
The answer may seem obvious, but there are two different types of snakebites. In addition, one is more serious than the other is.
Dry bite. This happens when the snake does not release venom when it bites. As you might expect, this mostly seen in non-venomous snakes.
Venomous bite. This is much more dangerous. It occurs when a snake releases venom when it bites a human.
Venomous snakes release venom voluntarily when they bite. You can control the amount of venom released, and 50-70% of bites from venomous snakes result in poisoning or intoxication. Even if the bite is less serious, any snakebite should be treated as a medical emergency unless you are absolutely sure that the bite is from a non-venomous snake. Any delay in treatment after a venomous snakebite can result in serious injury or, in the worst case, death.
How common are snakebites?
In the US, snakebites are not very common, and they are usually not fatal. However, according to the World Health Organization, there are between 4.5 million and 5.4 million snakebites each year, of which 1.8 million to 2.7 million result in illness. It is estimate that at least 81,000 to 138,000 people die from snakebites each year.
Nevertheless, it is best to treat all snakebites as medical emergencies unless the bite is determined to be from a non-venomous snake. Any delay in treatment after a venomous snakebite can result in death or serious injury.
Who is most likely to bitten by a snake?
Up to 95% of snakebites occur in tropical or developing countries. People living in South and Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are particularly affect by snakebites, as they often do not have access to adequate medical care and anti-venom. Snakebites are also particularly common in poor communities, often in rural areas. People in certain occupations are also at increased risk, including.
- Agricultural workers
What are the symptoms of a snakebite?
If you bitten by a snake, the symptoms will depend on the type of bite. If you bitten by a dry snake, you may only have swelling and redness at the bite site. However, if you have bitten by a venomous snake, you will have a wider range of symptoms, which usually include.
Bite wounds on the skin. These may be puncture wounds or smaller, less easily recognizable areas.
- Redness, swelling and tissue damage at the bite site, up to and including complete destruction.
- Abnormal blood clotting and bleeding. Severe bleeding can lead to haemorrhage or kidney failure.
- Low blood pressure, increased heart rate and weakening of the pulse.
- Nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, headache, dizziness and blurred vision.
- Shortness of breath or, in severe cases, complete respiratory failure.
- Increased saliva production and sweating
- Muscle weakness and numbness of the face or limbs.
How is a snakebite treat?
First, you should seek medical attention immediately. This means calling 911 or the emergency services as soon as possible, because even if the bite is not that painful at first, it needs to treated as a potentially life-threatening event. Correctly identifying the snake can help with treatment, although it can be very difficult to do so. Also, take the following steps immediately.
- Take off any jewelry or watches as these can cut the skin if there is swelling.
- Keep the bite site below the heart to slow the spread of the poison in the bloodstream.
- Remain calm and composed. If you can, turn over and rest in a recovery position. If you move around a lot, the venom can spread through your body more quickly.
- Cover the bite site with a clean, dry bandage. If possible, try to use a pressure bandage. This type of bandage should wrapped tightly around the bite site. Then wrap the entire limb with another bandage to hold it in place.
While these precautions are helpful, the definitive treatment for snakebites is anti-venom. Try to get the anti-venom to the bite victim as soon as possible. Knowing the size, color and shape of the snake can help the doctor determine the best anti-venom for that particular situation.
The anti-venom is given by injection or intravenously (through a needle in the arm) so that it can take effect as quickly as possible. Although both methods can have side effects, they have shown to be the most effective. One of these side effects is serum sickness, which can occur 4 to 10 days after receiving the antidote. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider or doctor about serum sickness
- a rash
- joint pain
- kidney failure
- swollen lymph nodes
What not to do when treating a snake bite?
A snakebite can cause people to panic and act irrationally. However, there are some things you should avoid doing immediately after a snake bite, including.
- Do not pick up the snake or try to coil or kill it, as this increases the likelihood that it will bite you again. Even dead snakes can bite.
- Do not use a tourniquet.
- Do not cut the wound under any circumstances.
- Do not try to suck out the venom.
- Do not ice the wound or soak it with water.
- Do not drink alcohol.
- Do not drink drinks containing caffeine.
What happens after I have treated for a snakebite?
In most cases, you will need to stay in hospital for at least 24 hours so that the doctor can monitor your blood pressure and general health. If your blood pressure drops below a certain level, you may need intravenous fluids (through a needle in your arm). If the bite causes greater than normal blood loss, you may need a blood transfusion.
You will also need to be monitor for possible side effects of the antidote. Because of this, only a trained healthcare professional should administer the anti-venom. The time to full recovery depends on the type of snakebite. In most cases, children can recover from a venomous snakebite within 1 to 2 weeks. Most adults take longer than three weeks, but 25% of patients take between one and nine months. Pain and swelling are common permanent effects on the part of the body that bitten.