A short blog by VPS Lakeshore Hospital on the steps to be taken if you've been bitten by a snake.
The fear of snakes is quite common and most people have a good justification for it - venomous snake bites. However, a quick Google search will tell you that out of the 3000 species of these reptiles, only 600 are venomous and an even lesser 200 have venom that can seriously harm human beings. To put that into context, only 7 per cent of snakes worldwide have venom that can kill or paralyze us.
If you are in India, there are mostly four species of venomous snakes to look out for: Cobra, Saw-scaled Viper, Russel’s Viper and Common Krait.
So, let us start this blog by telling you that there is no need to be terrified of snakes. Taking precautions is the best way to prevent a snake bite. But what should you do in case you’ve just been bitten by a snake? Let us guide you through…
The first step in surviving this encounter is to call an ambulance immediately. Observe the bitten area for any change in colour or texture of the skin and swelling around the wound.
While waiting for medical assistance, you may follow these steps:
1) Keep a safe distance from the snake if it is still in your vicinity. Do not attempt to kill or catch the snake as this may be dangerous.
2) Remain calm to reduce the spread of venom.
3) Remove any jewellery or tight clothing to avoid swelling of the bitten area.
4) Do not apply ice on the wound.
5) Do not cut or suck the bitten area.
6) Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol as these substances could speed up your body’s venom absorption rate.
7) If possible, take a photograph of the snake that bit you so that medical professionals can help find the right anti-venom for you.
Upon the arrival of an ambulance, describe the snake to the medical professionals or show them the photograph, if possible.
Symptoms of snakes bites:
• Pain and rash at the site of the wound are the most common symptoms of non-venomous snake bites.
• In the case of a venomous snake bite, there will be severe stinging pain which often happens within 15 minutes of the incident. Furthermore, there will be swelling or change in colour of the site of the bite along with nausea, heavy breathing and generalised weakness. Sometimes, there can also be an odd taste in your mouth.
• Certain species like Cobra and Krait have toxins that cause neurological symptoms like speech problems, breathing difficulty, drooping of eyelids and tingling sensation.
• Viper bites can cause bleeding and bruising.
In hospital, the treatment may include
• Tetanus vaccination
• A special type of antivenom depending on the type of snakebite and the severity of your symptoms