Common Venomous Snake Bites, Their Symptoms And Treatments

Common Venomous Snake Bites, Their Symptoms And Treatments


The account of deaths recorded due to bites by venomous snakes has never been one to overlook. In this course, we are going to introduce the case of venomous snakes which are responsible for most deaths resulting from snake bites, outline common venomous snake bites, and their peculiar symptoms, before winding the course up with treatments for both venomous and non-venomous snake bites. While these treatments are only for temporary reliefs, they will also buy you more time to arrive at a clinic and commence medications for actual snake bite.



According to the World Health Organization ( WHO ), over 421,000 snake bites occur yearly around the world. Out of this number, over 20,000 of these snake bites prove fatal. The fatality rates are high in parts of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa where access to quality health-care can not be rapidly accessed by the victims.

Before you even start to apply treatments, you must be sure you were bitten by a snake and not a scorpion or another venomous creature. These are common symptoms of venomous and non-venomous snake bites alike. So, if you observe the following symptoms, you can be sure it was a snake that attacked you and you can commence appropriate treatments.

  • Two puncture wounds.
  • Swelling, redness around wounds.
  • Pain at site of the bite. An exception is the coral snake bite which is painless at the site of bite yet very deadly.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Unusual blood clotting.
  • Low blood pressure and shock.
  • Increase in rate of perspiration or swearing.
  • Increase in production of saliva.
  • Numbness of limbs.

These symptoms are a result of some toxins released by the snake into the victim’s body. Various snakes release different toxins. The toxins or venom which are detected in human blood circulation after snake bites include:

  1. Cytotoxins: They are responsible for swelling and tissue damage in the site of a snake bite.
  2. Hemorrhages: These toxins severe blood vessels.
  3. Anti-clotting agents: Stop blood from clotting at the site of the bite.
  4. Neurotoxins: Responsible for brain-related harms such as paralysis.
  5. Myotoxins: They break down the victim’s muscle.
  6. Hemotoxin: Radically attack and destroy the victim’s Red Blood Cells.


Some Common Venomous Snake Bites

The Rattlesnake Venom

Rattlesnake venom is notorious for its high potency or efficacy. For common rattlesnake venom, the primary constituent in their venom is the hemotoxin. However, few other species of these rattlesnakes such as Mojave, tiger, and speckled rattlesnakes contain neurotoxin as the primary constituent. Often, local humans sharing habitat with these snakes sight them basking at the sun while resting on logs of wood or rocks. So, be careful of your steps.

Their bites also leave prominent symptoms on their victims which include the following:

  1. Sagging eyelids.
  2. Pain at the local site.
  3. Fall in blood pressure.
  4. Thirst.
  5. Fatigue.
  6. Internal bleeding.


Water Moccasin Venom

The venom is secreted by a specie of pit vipers called Water Moccasin. Constituents of this venom are hemotoxin and cytotoxins.

Their circulation within the blood of a victim produces symptoms similar to those of Copperhead snakes. In any case, the symptoms include;

  1. Rapid fall in blood pressure.
  2. Fatigue.
  3. Skin discoloration.
  4. Instant pain at the site of the bite.
  5. Shock.
  6. Vomiting.
  7. Disturbed vision
  8. Labored breathing
  9. Increased salivation and sweating


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Copperhead Venom

The symptom that distinguishes a copperhead venom from that of a water Moccasin is the presence of a pain that is delayed in victims of Copperhead whereas, in the case of water Moccasin, the pain is felt at the site of bite the moment the snake strikes.

This venom constitutes of hemotoxin and cytotoxin; key toxins responsible for those symptoms it shares with water Moccasin.

However, the symptoms of copperhead venom which are similar to those of Water Moccasins are:

  1. Depression in blood pressure.
  2. Fatigue.
  3. Skin discoloration.
  4. Instant pain.
  5. Shock.
  6. Vomiting.
  7. Nausea
  8. Increased salivation and sweating
  9. Labored breathing
  10. Disturbed vision


Coral Snake Venom

Notorious for their neurotoxins which are capable of damaging the victim’s central nervous system and inducing brain lapses. They can also cause extreme pain at the local site of the bite.

Coral snake venom victims can take several months to recover after medication with anti-venom.

Symptoms of Coral snake bites are numerous. They include:

  1. Pain may be a delay in manifesting.
  2. Sagging eyelids.
  3. Stomach aches.
  4. Skin discoloration.
  5. Difficulty in swallowing saliva.
  6. Headache.
  7. Shock.
  8. Progressive Paralysis.
  9. Convulsions.
  10. Respiratory arrest.

N/B: With respect to Coral snakes, the above symptoms may delay in manifesting. In that case when these symptoms delay manifesting after confirming it was a snake bite, then there is a high probability that was a Coral snake attack.

A common feature that triggers the strike of these snakes and transmission of their venom, is an invasion into their territory. Campers in rocky terrains or the woods are often advised to be cautious of their steps and also wear heavy boots that can protect their feet, ankles, and heels; body parts most vulnerable to their attacks.


Tips To Observe After A Snake Bite

Tips To Observe After A Snake Bite

There are, however, some salient points to note or observe after confirming you were bitten by a snake, any snake. These points or tips will aid any Physician to provide you with the correct kind of medication and in the actual dose. In that case, observe the following, or carry them out.

  • Contact a local ambulance or paramedic to lift you from your attack scene or find you in its vicinity, in case you are not able to make it to the closest Clinic by yourself.
  • Note the time of the snake bite.
  • Maintain calmness. Muscle contraction and relaxation can make the venom to move rapidly in the blood.
  • Pull out tight clothing, including jewelry.
  • Avoid killing or searching for the snake, ironically you will be helping yourself to die quicker by increasing the spread of the venom in your blood. However, if you can, you can take a picture of the snake. But, don’t sweat it.


Outdated Practices

Some practices aimed at the management of snake bites have proved to be erroneous following recent discoveries. Some of them include:

  • Use of tourniquets.
  • Piercing the site of the snake bite and sucking at it using your mouth.
  • Applying a cold compress at the affected site.
  • Prescription of medication without the knowledge of a certified or authorized Physician.
  • Lifting of the affected part above the heart.
  • Using pump suction equipment to pump out the venom from the bloodstream.

Some of these ancient practices have even complicated the medications and worsened the crisis.


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The first line of action after getting bit by a snake is to quickly reach out for medical attention by requesting emergency lifts. After arrival at a Hospital, a professional Doctor will prescribe the required medications for that peculiar snake bite. Luckily, not all venomous snake bites are fatal, or deadly.

A lot of times the fatality is dependent on the site of the bite, the age of the victim as well as his health condition. When it is not a critical snake bite, the Doctor may only clean the site of the wound and provide the patient with tetanus medication. If upon examination and it is observed that it was a venomous snake bite, the anti-venom vaccine can be quickly administered to restrict the circulation of the venom.


Afterward Of A Snake Bite

A general view following a snake bite occurrence is relative. Depends on if it was a venomous snake bite or non-venomous snake bite. In the case of a non-venomous snake bite, the future is bright when the wound is cleansed and treated appropriately. As for venomous snake bites, there is hope if a victim receives medications in the soonest.

Adults who suffer no health condition and are victim to superficial snake bites are better off than children or aged persons who suffer from deep snake bites.


How To Prevent Snake Bites

There are different approaches to preventing snake bites. It is best to avoid places notorious for being their natural habitats or territory unless you are on research. In the event you come across them in unexpected places, it’s advisable to refrain from approaching or handling them.

If you do, they may strike in defense. Snakes usually live in isolation and shy from human interaction, so when you sight them, stay back or retreat so they can crawl away to some other quiet place.

If you are on research or on any purpose that mandates you to walk into snakes territory then you must observe safety cautions such as protective clothing. They include high boots, long pants or trousers, leather gloves. If you must work within their habitat it’s safest to not work at night or in warm weather, those are when these crawling creatures are best active.



Best Practices For Snake Bites Treatments

When you have confirmed a person has been bitten by a snake or you are a snake bite victim yourself, the first point of duty is to call for emergency medication and give your location so that you can be provided a ride to the hospital for immediate treatments.

If things fall out that you don’t make it to any Hospital in several hours, but no symptoms occur. Or you are certain what bit you were no venomous snake, then you can commence care for non-venomous snake bites. In that case, you should observe these:

  • With the aid of a clean piece of clothing, put pressure on the wound until bleeding ceases.
  • Keep aside the clothing and wash the wound using soap and clean water.
  • Spread an antibiotic cream ( if available ), on the wound surface to keep germs away.
  • Conceal the wound with clean bandage or gauze to facilitate healing.

When it comes to treatments for venomous or poisonous snake bites. An entirely different or opposite group of practices must be observed. If you are certain what bit you or another victim was a venomous snake, then:

  • Contact an Emergency Hotline for the closest hospital and provide your location, also describe the situation at hand and the color or nature of the snake if accessible.
  • Support the victim to be calm, and immobile. Muscular movements will only facilitate the spread of the venom through the victim’s body.
  • Take off any piece of clothing or jewelry at the site of the bite.
  • When changes begin to set in in the victim’s body; such as pale skin, heightened heartbeat, gasp, fatigue, perspiration, then the victim must be treated for a shock since it has begun to set in. You can also cover them with some clothing to increase their body temperature.
  • If possible, take at least one picture of the snake that struck. It will be very useful in guiding professionals to prescribe vaccines for the victim.

In that same vein, some practices could worsen the case of venomous snakebite and complicate the patient’s response to administered drugs. These practices include:

  1. Administering pain relievers for the victim before taking him to a hospital.
  2. Piercing the site of the bite and attempting to suck out the poison or venom.
  3. Providing meals or drinks for the victim to keep himself busy with.
  4. Cleansing the site of the bite. ( that is because remnant poisons isolated from the area of bite will aid professionals to confirm what snake that bit the patient ).
  5. Place a cold compress on the wound.

N/B: Numbers 4 and 5 are not advised for persons bitten by a venomous or poisonous snake, because by the time you do them poison is already circulating in your bloodstream. So, only wash the area of bite clean if certain that you were bitten by a non-venomous or non-poisonous snake. If you are not sure or are confused, then don’t do this until you arrive at a hospital where professionals can examine you and confirm what exactly it was that bit you.

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