Rattlesnakes are venomous and their bites can lead to a medical emergency. It has 30 different species. They have a distinctive buzz or a rattling sound, spotted body, and triangular-shaped head, that helps identify them. Getting bitten by Rattlesnake can be fatal (1)
With the rattlesnake bite, the circulatory system is affected and the skin tissue and blood cells are damaged.
Symptoms Of A Rattlesnake Bite
On getting bitten by a snake there would be puncture marks at the site of the bite. The person might feel pain and tingling along with swelling, bruising, and discoloration.
Once bitten by a rattlesnake the venom takes just a few seconds to travel to the bloodstream. The symptoms occur immediately and worsen with time.
The symptoms that occur after a rattlesnake bite are:
- Blurred vision
- Tissue damage
- Weak pulse
- Change in color of the skin
- Numbness in the face and limbs
- Difficulty in breathing
There would be hemorrhage as the presence of venom in the blood would cause the blood platelets and fibrinogen count to decrease to dangerous levels.
Due to the similarity of a few symptoms some other snake bites may be mistaken for a rattlesnake bite.
Medical help is required within 30 minutes of getting bitten by a rattlesnake. If the bite is left untreated there would be a breakdown of the body functions and over 2-3 days, there is be severe organ damage. It can even lead to death.
What To Do If A Rattlesnake Bites?
The first and the foremost thing to do after getting bitten by a rattlesnake, is to move away from it to prevent getting struck by it again.
It is good if you remember its color and size. It would help the medical team to identify the species and locate the correct antivenin.
Call for an ambulance as seeking immediate medical help is immensely important. While waiting for the ambulance the following preventive measures can be taken:
- Do not raise the area of bite above the heart as it would make the venom pave its ways towards the heart quickly.
- Remain still as movement would increase the blood flow and make it circulate faster.
- Any jewelry or tight clothing should be removed before the swelling starts showing up.
- If there is any bleeding at the site, do not stop it. The bleeding would allow some of the venom to flow away.
- Do not wash the area, as the venom from that would be used to identify the correct antivenin.
- Place a clean bandage over the wound.
- Avoid panic and anxiety as it would increase the heart rate and cause the venom to spread.
- If there is a feeling of shock, lie down, raise feet, and keep warm.
- Do not try to cut the wound, as it would raise the chances of infection and would be of no help.
- Do not at all try to suck the venom from the wound, as it would introduce venom and bacteria to the mouth.
- Do not apply a tourniquet or apply ice or water over the wound.
- Never give the victim any medication, alcohol, or caffeine, none of these would be helpful.
Apart from taking all these precautions, it is important to get immediate help from the hospital. Wasting time on unnecessary procedures would just increase the chances of risk.
After giving the antivenom treatment, the doctor would give pain medication before the patient leaves. It is important to take the medication as advised and go for frequent follow-ups.
If the wound shows the signs of infection, inform the doctor treating it.
Complications of a Rattlesnake Bite
Some people can observe anaphylactic shock. It can happen immediately or after a few hours.
The Complications include:
- Pale, cold, and clammy skin
- Loss of consciousness
- Rapid and shallow breathing
Other Signs Of Complication Are:
In case of signs of shock make the patient lie down with raised legs. You can use a coat or blanket to keep the patient warm.
Prognosis of Rattlesnake Bite
The prognosis of a rattlesnake bite is good if immediate treatment is given.
The shallow bites have a better outlook than the deeper ones. Healthier adults recover faster than children and those with a weak immune system.
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