Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

More often than not people in isolated lands are faced with the problem of snake bites. To identify whether a snake bite is venomous or not you need to be able to identify the snake. So how can you tell if a snake bite is poisonous? What first aid is needed and what is its treatment. Let us look at it in detail.

How to Know If a Snake Bite Is Poisonous?

How to Know If a Snake Bite Is Poisonous?

The most common snakes which can result in a venomous snake bite include the bite of rattlesnakes, copperheads, cotton mouths/water moccasins and coral snakes. If you don’t have the knowledge of the snakes there are certain symptoms that the bite causes, which can help you identify a venomous snake bite. These symptoms vary on the basis of the type of toxin secreted into the bite and on the quantity of the toxin prevalent in the tissues. With this, you can tell if a snake bite is poisonous.
Some common symptoms of a venomous snake bite that tell you if a snake bite is poisonous include:

  • A pair of puncture marks on the wound, that look like a fang bite
  • Redness and swelling around the bite site.
  • Severe pain in the area of the bite.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Labored breathing or in extreme cases the breathing can stop altogether.
  • Disrupted vision.
  • Augmented sweating and salivation.
  • Dropping eyelids.
  • Low blood pressure/weakness.
  • Tingling feeling or sheer numbness in limbs and/or around the face.

Venomous or non-venomous - a snake bite requires immediate medical attention and it is best for the experts to judge whether the bite will do much harm or not. In several cases, the pain of a venomous bite sets in hours after the bite. Even though immediate medical attention is needed, certain first aid rules for a snake bite are important.

First Aid for a Snake Bite

Before medical treatment is made available, first aid for a snake bite, can help save lives.

  • Call 911: Calling for emergency is the most important action in treating a snake bite, it is for best if emergency medical help arrives as soon as possible.
  • Note the time of the bite: For best results and ease in treating a snake bite, the time of the bite should be noted down. It helps in planning its treatment and assessing the severity.
  • Keep calm and still: The more the victim moves, the more are the chances of the venom spreading quickly. Therefore, it is necessary to be calm and still until the treatment for a snake bite starts.
  • Remove constricting jewelry/clothing: If there is anything constricting jewelry or clothing, the area around the bite, should be removed at the earliest as any constriction in the area can lead to swelling.
  • Restrict the victim from walking: Since any sort of movement of the victim should be restricted, the patient should be carried or transported in a vehicle, than being asked to walk any distance.
  • Don’t try to go after the snake: Take a picture of the snake if possible easily or remember the basic attributes of its looks, with the help of which you can tell if a snake bite is poisonous. But it is not advised to waste your time to look for the snake, or to try to handle it or even kill the snake. Time is important and early treatment for a snake bite is the key.

Once the first aid has been taken care of the victim needs to be treated for the snake bite

Treatment for a Snake Bite

Since immediate medical treatment needs to be sought, the physician will evaluate the bite mark and the condition of the victim to decide on the specific course of treatment. A bite mark from a venomous snake can also prove to be not life threatening, but the same needs to be examined on the basis of the victim’s health and age by the physician.

In case the bite is not life threatening or serious in any manner, the treatment of a snake bite includes, cleaning the wound, medications for pain or any symptoms and injection for Tetanus.

In case the situation is life threatening, the treatment of a snake bite includes giving an anti-venom. Anti-venom is a compound which is created using snake venom to counter the effects of the snake bite symptoms. Once the anti-venom is injected into the victim, the results will start showing. It is best if the anti-venom is used as early as possible, as the sooner it is administered the more effective it is bound to be.

While it is useful to know how you can tell if a snake bite is poisonous, seeking immediate medical care in case of a snake bite is necessary. Timely first aid and treatment of a snake bite can help prevent complications and save lives.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 31, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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