First Aid Tips for Snake Bites!

Original post by itsadisaster on APN

Please add any other safety tips, links and/or experiences that can help others but note disclaimer at bottom! Thx, itsa

According to the FDA and the National Institutes of Health, about 8,000 people in the U.S. are treated for poisonous snakebites each year with about a dozen deaths (on average) annually.

Poisonous snakes have triangular heads, slit-like pupils, and two long fangs, which make puncture wounds at end of each row of teeth. Non-poisonous snake bites leave two rows of teeth marks but no puncture wounds, but don’t use bite mark to determine type since swelling may hide wounds.

Things to watch for
Puncture and/or bite marks
Pain and Swelling
Nausea and puking
Difficulty breathing or swallowing
Possible Allergic reaction – Weakness or dizziness; redness or discoloration at bite; trouble
breathing; signs of shock (pale, cold, drowsy, etc.)

What to do
• If possible, try to identify type or color of snake but don’t put yourself in danger!
• Wash bite wound with soap and water.
• Keep bitten body part below heart level, if possible.
• Call emergency number or animal control, if necessary.

If bite is from a Poisonous snake, also do this
• Remove constrictive items (like rings or watches) since swelling may occur.
• DO NOT apply tourniquet or ice.*
• Monitor breathing and make sure airway is open.
• Keep victim still to slow down circulation of venom.
• DO NOT let victim eat or drink anything or take medication since it could interfere with emergency treatment.
• If possible and safe, remove venom – esp. if help is hours away. (Most snakebite kits have proper venom extractors in them.)
• DO NOT use “cut and suck” method! It increases chance of infection or damage .. instead get a venom extractor for kits, backpacks, etc.
• Get to a doctor or hospital to receive antivenin.

The worst effects may not be felt for hours after a bite from most poisonous North American snakes, but it is best if antivenin is given as quickly as possible (or at least within 12-24 hours of the bite).

Above extracted from our IT’S A DISASTER! book

* Note: If you trap venom with a tourniquet, it can cause tissue damage and necrosis (tissue death). There are rare circumstances when using a “constricting band” can help (like the victim going into shock and to slow spread of venom of a pit viper or if the victim must walk for at least 30 minutes to get help), but most professionals and books say don’t do it. An ice pack may cause frostbite or tissue damage so again, most professionals do not recommend it.

Keep in mind a majority of poisonous snake bites are “dry” bites, but it’s best to seek professional medical help if at all possible. Some alternative natural remedies when no antivenin is available (from a book called “The Natural Health First Aid Guide” by Mark Mayell and the editors of Natural Health magazine) include…

Echinacea (internally and externally) – Available fresh, dried, in a tincture, or freeze-dried. Ingest 2 to 3 droppersful of the tincture immediately after snakebite with another dropperful every hour for up to 12 hours. (Herbalist Christopher is quoted saying it’s not toxic and high dosage gets immune system going.) Soak a cotton pad with tincture and tape on bite. To prevent drying too fast cover pad with plastic wrap and a light cloth.

Vitamin C – Take 2 grams immediately after bite, then 2 to 5 grams with mixed bioflavinoids daily in mixed doses for next 3 to 4 days. Be aware high doses of C can cause very loose poops and some people may be allergic to or have trouble absorbing / digesting ascorbic acid.

Homeopathic Arnica – good for pain, swelling and bruising.

MSM – good for internal inflammation

Pau d’arco (internally and externally) – Soak a cotton pad with tincture or extract and tape on bite. Compliment it with oral doses of pau d’arco capsules, tea or extract.

Supplements like chlorophyll and shiitake or reishi mushrooms can help detoxify blood and boost immune system. (There are others too – hoping for input.)

Poultices – a paste of fresh or dried healing herbs (like echinacea, comfrey or calendula) can be applied daily directly on the skin or put between 2 layers of gauze and taped over wound.

Note: Although electric shock (often with a stun gun) has been a popular treatment for snakebite in developing countries, it should be avoided as it is a potentially hazardous intervention that has never been shown to be effective (according to the American Academy of Family Physicians).

One final note – if you are given antibiotics during recovery, consider taking an acidophilus supplement to help reestablish good bacteria and protect liver from toxins. (Or eat some plain yogurt or fresh sauerkraut [not heated].)

Disclaimer: Please note, I am not a licensed physician and only providing this information as educational data / tips. I’m hoping Littledoc and others here have other suggestions and/or options, and make sure you use caution with alternative products esp when taking prescription drugs or have an existing ailment. Learn more about herbs, vitamins and prescription drugs (including any possible interactions with them) at MedlinePlus http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginformation.html or Wed MD http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/default.aspx

p.s. When I searched this topic I see CajunDaddys_girl posted some snake bite, wound care and other great safety tips in a Tsunami thread but I wanted to add snake bites here in this First Aid forum too. A little redundant but hopefully it’s ok. itsa

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