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7 Important Aspects Related to Rattlesnake Bite

May 24, 2018
Rattlesnake

It is a fact that most people fear snakes due to the venom that it carries and the mere thought of snakebite can be enough to give Goosebumps to a person. In certain species, the venom may not be very poisonous while in others, they can be literally fatal. There are many species of snakes known to us that can induce stroke or paralysis by biting. That is the reason why people generally try to stay away from them, at least till the point of time that people know that they have poisonous fangs inside their mouth.

One of the well-known species is the rattlesnake and they can be found in many types of climatic conditions. Within the US, this type of snake can be found in almost all the states and therefore people must look out for them if there is any chance of them being there at a place. They adapt themselves to a wide range of temperature and that is why they are able to live in almost all types of weather conditions.

Like any other venomous snake, a rattlesnake can also be quite lethal and a rattlesnake bite, if left untreated or if corrective steps are not followed, may lead to chronic physical complications or even fatality. In many cases of rattlesnake biting, it has been observed that patients have undergone some sort of paralysis or even death due to treatment not being met on time. Therefore, it is very important to address the issue at the time so that things may not go out of hand and damage can be kept to the minimum. We look here at some of the aspects related to rattlesnake bite, its treatment, symptoms, and certain others characteristics that can help in raising the awareness and understanding them better.   

1. A Rattlesnake Bite can be quite Deadly

Rattlesnake

As already stated, rattlesnakes are quite poisonous and their venom may be quite deadly. On being bitten, it can immediately be a case of medical emergency and the preventive steps need to be taken as soon as possible. There are about more than 30 known species of rattlesnakes throughout the world and the venom in all of them can be quite fatal. However, treatment should be provided to a rattlesnake bite in the shortest possible time so that condition does not deteriorate further.  

The problem with the bite is that they can damage tissues and have an effect on the circulatory system by damaging the blood cells and soft skin tissues which in effect can lead to internal hemorrhage. Rattlesnake venom mostly contains hemotoxic elements. Hemotoxic elements are types of misnomers (a type of chemical) that can stop blood clotting, damage tissues, impair red blood cells and may affect organ degeneration.

Rattlesnakes can be easily identified by their characteristic rattle or buzz and all the species of this family display this typicality so that they can be identified with it. Actually, they use the noise of the rattle to keep their predators away from them and it is more of a signal that is used by them for the purpose.  

2. Symptoms of Rattlesnake Bite 

Rattlesnake

The symptoms of a rattlesnake bite are, perhaps very clear and straightforward. If a person has seen the snake while biting, that can be enough for confirmation. However, if it has not been physically seen while biting yet there is excruciating pain, that also can be reason enough to justify some of the other symptoms associated with it. A victim will have one or two puncture marks on the skin where the snake has bitten. This is actually due to the fangs that are used by it to inject the venom into the victim's body. Fangs can be considered to be as injections that are used by rattlesnakes to push venom into its prey's body. Rattlesnakes are born with fangs since their birth and are capable of killing and incapacitating its from since childhood.

Coming back to rattlesnake biting symptoms, a person can experience tingling, pain or intense burning within the area where biting marks are present. There can also be accompanied discoloration, bruising or swelling of the whole place that can make it very tough for a person to stay calm for the moment although it is very highly desired to stay relaxed at that time. Apart from these, there are certain other symptoms that should also be discussed here.

There can be a sort of numbness in the limbs, face or any other area so that it can be completely cut off from the rest of the body.

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  • A person may experience dizziness or lightheadedness that can in itself be one of the symptoms.
  • A sense of weakness may prevail in a person being bitten by a rattlesnake.
  • Vomiting or nausea may also be experienced by a person who has experienced rattlesnake bite.
  • Excessive sweating can also be one of the symptoms to look out for.
  • There can be excess saliva secretion in case of a rattlesnake bite and it is one of the main symptoms of it.
  • Blurred vision may be experienced by a person due to the bite.
  • Breathing problems may be there in case of a rattlesnake bite making it tough for the victim to breathe easily.  

3. Treatment of Rattlesnake Bite

snake bite treatment

A rattlesnake bite can be quite deadly if correct precaution is not taken in time. The venom from them can be highly toxic and can affect certain parts of the body. Therefore, it is very important to treat a rattlesnake bite in time so that situation does not go out of hand. First and foremost, if a person has been bitten by a rattlesnake, then it is very important to keep away from the snake as it can bite again if it feels threatened. Therefore, the victim must make some distance from it as soon as it strikes so that the possibility of a restrike can be eliminated.

At certain times, people try to catch a snake that was involved in biting. That can be a useless job to do at that time. Rather, it can be important to remember the snake's color or size so that the medical team can be informed about it so that they can plan for the best antivenon with them for the treatment.

It is important to reach out for medical help as soon as possible. If a person is healthy enough to call an ambulance after the snake bite, it should be called in immediately without waiting for any other help. It is also due to the fact that there are many misconceptions regarding a rattlesnake bite treatment and these should not be given an ear during those times. The most important thing at that time is to take the medical help that can be useful in dealing with the circumstances.

4. Things to do After a Rattlesnake Attack

Rattlesnake

Most people may ask 'what to do if a rattlesnake bites you?' This question can be quite common due to the fact that not always a person will be close to a medical facility at the time of an attack. Although there isn't much in terms of medical help that can be done at that time yet there are certain small things that can be quite useful during those moments. In fact, adhering to them can be pretty useful in negating the effects of a rattlesnake bite.

There are certain things that can be carried out at those times so that the victim can be kept at ease before medical help arrives. Before an ambulance comes, some steps can be carried out which include the following.

Try to keep the body part that has been bitten by the snake at a lower level compared to the heart. In this way, the blood which contains venom can move slowly up to the heart and discomfort can be relieved.

It is important to understand here that a person should stay still as far as possible because any physical activity can increase the blood flow in the body and the venom can circulate fast within the body.

It is imperative to remove any tight clothing so that free air movement can be built up. Similarly, if there is any jewelry, that should also be removed for the time being if any swelling starts to happen.

Rattlesnake

It is a good idea to make the wound bleed so that any venom contained in it can be drained out along with the blood.

It is important to remember here that the area on/near to the bite should not be washed. It is because the medical team may identify the venom from the skin and can accordingly decide on a suitable antivenin for the purpose more quickly.

It is a nice idea to keep a bandage on the wound so that it can be kept sufficiently covered and free of any germ.

A person who has been bitten by a rattlesnake should remain calm and composed. It is one of the pre-requisites of treatment because any panic or anxiety can increase the heart rate and venom can spread very quickly within the body.

If there is any sign of shock, a person should lie down on the back with legs slightly raised and there should be sufficient warmness in the area.

Many times people feel cutting across the bitten area may be helpful which is not so. Cutting across the area may lead to infection and that can further aggravate the problem and prolong the treatment. Therefore, the wound should not be cut at any cost.

There is also a misconception regarding 'venom-sucking' from the affected part. People should refrain from sucking venom through the mouth from the affected part. It is due to two reasons. First, sucking the venom through the mouth can introduce the venom into the mouth which in itself can be dangerous. Second, bacterial infections of the mouth may get introduced into the wound as well that may complicate the matter further. Therefore, this process should not be undertaken.

It is also important not to apply ice, water or use a tourniquet as this may not be useful and may be problematic later.

Looking at all these points, it is therefore important to reach a medical facility as soon as possible without wasting time on useless procedures.

5. Timeline for Rattlesnake Bite

Rattlesnake

As has been already mentioned, rattlesnake bites can be very disastrous and painful. The timeline of a rattlesnake bite is very important to understand here so that they can be dealt in a more meaningful way.

As soon as rattlesnake bites, the venom from its glands moves through its fangs along the glands and into the victim's skin. All this happens within a small fraction of a second. It has a retractable fang that helps in injecting the venom in its prey. More often than not, the symptoms of the venom are displayed very quickly in the victim's body as it starts getting diluted in the bloodstream. Moreover, these symptoms may deteriorate further with time and these can be quite serious.

Therefore, it is always recommended to get medical help within 30 minutes of a rattlesnake bite so that correct medication can be affected and a victim can be rescued. In such an instance where medical help is not available within a substantial time, the bodily function may get affected within two to three days. That can further aggravate an organ damage or even death in some cases. Hence, the need of the hour is to get needed medical help as soon as possible so that the damage can be kept to a minimum.

6. Recovery and Aftercare from a Rattlesnake Bite 

Rattlesnake

Recovery and aftercare from a rattlesnake bite are as important as the treatment. As soon as a person comes out of danger, a hospital may discharge the person with a pain medication. It is very important to understand here that consuming the prescribed medicines on time is paramount for getting completely fit and healthy. Do not let pain to start before taking the medicine rather take them as per prescribed by the healthcare provider.

Not taking medicines on time can increase the risk of building bacterial immunity to the treatment. Further, it can also flare up secondary infections that can wreak havoc. Secondary infection may not be evident instantly but they can strike after a few weeks and that can be quite disastrous. The quantity of antibiotics or any other medication that is prescribed by a doctor is the amount that is needed for effectively neutralizing all the pathogens present. Therefore, it must be taken as per directed.

Repeat visits and follow-up appointments with the healthcare provider is very important to adhere so that there is no chance of the pathogen striking at a later stage. A victim should also ensure that there is no secondary infection build up and take medical advice from the healthcare provider can be very important.

One more thing to keep in mind over here is that the physical activities that are prescribed by a healthcare provider for effective recuperation must be performed religiously for a quick recovery. At times, the physical therapies may seem to be like boring activities that may not be of much help. But the fact of the matter is that these exercises can be helpful against many types of limb stiffening. Anyway, it is always nice to treat a limb when it can be recovered rather than completely rehabilitate it.

7. Long-term Side-effects of a Rattlesnake Bite

Rattlesnake

There has been much research going on at present too to understand clearly the long-term side effects of a rattlesnake bite. In fact, there is not much fact in hand to substantiate many claims. It is being said that compared to the earlier times, bites from rattlesnakes have been more serious now. There are examples to corroborate this claim. In certain cases, people have become tremendously weak following a rattlesnake bite and have taken weeks to recover. There are other cases in which severe shock due to a bite has led to heart stroke. Also, there have been cases where people have lost a part of their intestines due to a constricted flow of blood and even renal failures have been reported due to it.

This type of side effects was hardly seen during earlier times and therefore much information needs to be brought to light regarding its long-term side-effects. However, in a nutshell, it can definitely be said that though a person can expect to get himself treated from a rattlesnake bite yet there are long-term side-effects that can definitely be associated with it. Taking ample precaution against a rattlesnake bite can be the best solution at the moment.

Conclusion

It is very important to ensure that medical help is made available as soon as a person gets a rattlesnake bite. Any type of delay will only aggravate the situation and may lead to more complications. In extreme condition, casualty may also be reported due to a rattlesnake bite. Therefore, it is very important to ensure that a victim is rushed to a hospital as soon as such an eventuality occurs. Taking all the discussed precautions can only be helpful in keeping the mishap to a minimum and can be very helpful for the victim before the needed medical help arrives.

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