Snake Bites – What You Need to Know


LiveMD looks into the world of snakes and provides you with important information on how to survive and properly treat a venomous snake bite.

Venomous Snakes

Throughout the world there are over 500 different species of snakes that are considered venomous, meaning that they produce poison. When a venomous snake bites their prey, they secrete this poison into them from their fangs. This quick acting venom helps to disable their victim, allowing for a faster and easier kill. Snakes will also bite in self-defense if they are feeling threatened and for this reason there are millions of people that suffer from snake bites each year. Some venomous snakes do not have strong enough poison to seriously harm a person but the bite from others could cause dangerous complications, even death, if medical treatment is not administered quickly.

Symptoms of a Venomous Snake Bite

When a snake bites they will leave two small puncture wounds. These wounds are where the fangs have bitten into the skin. The surrounding area may become red and swollen and may be very painful. Depending on the type of snake that caused the bite and the strength of it’s venom, there may also be symptoms of severe allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat and neck, blurred vision, numbness, extreme sweating and salivating and nausea and vomiting.

How to Treat a Snake Bite

If you suspect that a snake bite has occurred the first course of action is to get away from the snake as quickly as possible to avoid further bites. The next step should be to get the victim to a hospital or emergency clinic as quickly as possible. The doctors there will be able to administer an anti-venom injection which will help to reverse the detrimental effects of the snake’s poison. If getting medical help will take some time then it is important to clean the wound. Let it bleed for approximately 30 seconds then wipe it clean. Do not flush it with water as this may push the poison further into the wound. Next wrap a bandage around the area 2-4 inches above the wound. This will help to slow the spread of venom. Make sure that there is still blood supply to the rest of the limb and that the bandage is not wrapped too tightly. Many movies will show someone sucking the venom out of the wound with their mouth but this is not the right thing to do. This could make the injury worse or could infect someone else with the poison. Instead, keep the victim calm and immobile. Do not allow them to do any strenuous activity and transport them to a hospital as quickly as possible.

How to Avoid Being Bitten by a Snake

The best course of action is to avoid being bitten by a snake altogether.

  1. Do not provoke a snake. If you come across a snake in the wild, do not provoke it because it will bite. Keep your distance, back away and leave it alone. Do not attempt to pick it up or poke at it. Snakes can move very quickly and a bite can happen before you know it.
  2. Avoid areas where snakes are known to be present. Stay away from long grasses and stay on well worn paths.
  3. If you must tread through snake territory, protect yourself by wearing long pants and high boots.
  4. Do not move rocks or tree stumps without protecting yourself. Snakes like to hide in dark, enclosed areas. Make sure that you are wearing thick gloves before moving anything off the ground in case you disturb a snake and do not reach into any area that you suspect a snake may be hiding.


Remember: Snake bites can be very dangerous and life threatening. Avoiding a bite is the best course of action to take but if a bite does occur, get to your nearest medical facility as soon as possible for treatment. If that is not possible follow the steps as mentioned above and visit to speak with one of our doctors right away. Our doctors can provide helpful tips and medical advice to keep you safe from a snake bite until an anti-venom is administered.

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April 24th, 2016 by