Don’t Get Rattled. Here’s How You Can Be Proactive About Snake Bites.Family Health
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Here in California, I am always on the lookout for rattlesnakes. They tend to show up by the pool, on the driveway or just slithering on my hiking trail while walking the dogs. And according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, these venomous rattlesnakes are widespread in California.
But apparently, many other states also have their fair share of rattlesnakes too. For example, I recently read a story about a man in Texas who discovered 45 rattlesnakes under his home!
Reportedly, there are approximately 300 species of snakes native to the United States, and about 10 percent of them are venomous. Furthermore, between 5,000 – 10,000 people are bitten by these venomous snakes annually, (usually between April and October when people and snakes are most active outdoors).
For example, last August, a woman was bitten by a rattlesnake in San Diego as she was hiking down to the beach, according to a news report.
An eight-year-old boy in Florida was bitten by a rattlesnake last October while he was walking in his yard. Another person was bitten while mowing the lawn. And if you do a simple Google search of rattlesnake bites in the United States, you will see quite a few stories.
Clearly these snake bites can be a major problem, particularly in places where emergency services and healthcare may not be very accessible.
“Tens of thousands of lives are lost to snakebites each year and hundreds of thousands of people will survive with some form of permanent damage and reduced work capacity. These numbers are well recognized as being gross underestimations due to poor to non-existent record keeping in some of the most affected areas,” reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
So we should all be proactive about this issue, and a good way to start is to be informed about the do’s and don’ts of what to do if you are bitten by a snake.
At the outset, it is important to know that “a bite from a nonvenomous snake can cause infection or allergic reaction in some people. The most important thing to remember for snake bites is to treat all snake bites as if they were venomous and get to a hospital emergency room as quickly as possible, especially if you are unsure of the exact type of snake responsible for the bite,” reports Stanford Children’s Health.
Here are a few other things you should know if you are bitten:
- Apply a tourniquet, which is a device that can stop life-threatening bleeding
- Apply ice
- Try to capture the snake
- Wait to see if symptoms appear
- Immerse the wounded area in water
- Try to suck out the venom
- Cut the skin where the bite marks are present
- Drink alcohol or beverages with caffeine
- Seek medical treatment asap
- Remove jewelry, watches or anything constricting from the body (swelling tends to occur with snake bites)
- Try to remain calm and collected (panicking and moving around can make venom spread more rapidly throughout the body)
- Wash the bite with soap and water
- Cover the wound with a dry, clean and loose-fitting bandage
If you are bitten by a venomous snake, you may be given antivenom (depending on the snake that bit you and the severity of your symptoms).
“For more than 100 years, the mainstay of primary treatment for snakebite has been the administration of antivenoms. Antivenoms work by boosting our immune response after a snakebite. They are made by immunizing donor animals such as horses or sheep with snake venoms. These animals have robust immune systems, and produce powerful antibodies that can bind to snake venom components, enabling our own immune defences to eliminate these toxins,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
If you are treated for a snake bite with antivenom, antibiotics and painkillers, also speak with the doctor who treated you about an appropriate recovery diet plan from them, because although they assist with the recovery from the snake bite at the same time they may deplete your body of critical nutrients. Remember, foods such as fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fish are very rich in essential vitamins and minerals.
Certain antioxidants and nutrients, like vitamin C, may assist in the recovery from snake bites. For example, there is some evidence that “vitamin C administration protects against hepatic tissue damage induced by viper venom.” In fact, it is recommended that in snake bite cases, antioxidants like vitamin C should be used in conjunction with antivenom therapy for enhanced clinical care.
“In this context, vitamins, which are antioxidants obtained through food that protect the body against oxidative damage and can be easily acquired, can potentially be used as adjuvants in the treatment of ophidism [poisoning by snake venom].”
Vitamin K is another essential nutrient that helps your blood clot. So a deficiency in this vitamin could contribute to excessive bleeding after a snake bite. This is another important nutrient to make sure you have a sufficient intake of when suffering from a snake bite.
Finally, talk to a competent health care professional about IV vitamin drips. Depending on the severity of the snake bite, it may be difficult to eat and get your nutrients through foods. This method of nutrient therapy delivers nutrients directly into the bloodstream. You can read more about this here.
And as always, include routine nutrient tests as part of your regular proactive healthcare plan. If you are nutritionally balanced, you will be more prepared to cope with catastrophic events and medical emergencies such as snake bites. If a nutrient imbalance is discovered, a competent healthcare professional can work with you on making the necessary dietary changes and recommend quality supplements as appropriate.
Have you ever had a snake bite? Feel free to share your story with us.
Enjoy your healthy life!
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