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Snake Bite First Aid - Snakebite

Bite from a venomous snake, including rattlesnake, copperhead, water moccasin or coral snake. Bites on the extremities are most common, but bites on the head and trunk are most dangerous. They are likely to happen to runners, joggers, walkers, hikers, backpackers, fishers, boaters and campers, or anyone playing or working where snakes live.

Causes

Bites from venomous snakes are most likely to occur during outdoor activities in warm months in areas where venomous snakes are abundant.

Signs and symptoms

If the bite is from a coral snake, it will have multiple fang marks and small cuts. Coral-snake symptoms may not appear for 3 to 4 hours. If the bite is from another snake, it will have deep single or double-fang marks. Symptoms from other snakes begin quickly. Symptoms of any venomous snakebite include:

  • Severe pain and swelling around the bite.
  • Skin discoloration that resembles bruising around the bite.
  • Bleeding spots under the skin all over the body.
  • Numbness and tingling around the mouth and in the hands and feet.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Fever.
  • Low blood pressure and life-threatening shock.
  • Breathing difficulty.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Headache.
  • Seizures.
  • Coma.

Diagnosis

  • Your own observation of symptoms.
  • Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
  • Laboratory blood studies.

Treatment

Snake Bite First Aid

  • Go immediately to the nearest emergency facility.
  • Keep the person calm, reassuring them that bites can be effectively treated in an emergency room. Restrict movement, and keep the affected area below heart level to reduce the flow of venom
  • Remove any rings or constricting items because the affected area may swell. Create a loose splint to help restrict movement of the area.

Home Treatment

  • Don't panic! Venom will spread more quickly through the body if the victim runs or becomes excited.
  • Before giving first aid, identify the snake.
  • Don't pack the affected part in ice.
  • If the bite is from a coral snake, elevate and immobilize the bitten part and go to the nearest emergency facility.

Medication

Your doctor may prescribe:

  • Antivenin to neutralize snake poison.
  • Tetanus booster injection.
  • Antibiotics to prevent infection.
  • Pain relievers. (Narcotics cannot be used for coral-snake bites. They may cause shock.)
Prevention

Wear protective shoes, boots and clothing for hiking, camping, fishing and hunting. Prevent complications by carrying a snakebite kit and instructions when you enter high-risk areas.



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