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What are the common Symptoms of Snake Bite?

What are the common Symptoms of Snake Bite?
Atefa Noorain
Atefa Noorain
March14/ 2017


Snake bites are generally treated as a medical emergency. A bite from a harmless snake can be serious that may lead to an allergic reaction or an infection. A venomous snake bite is nothing but a bite or puncture wound that is capable of injecting or secreting a toxin into the penetrated skin wound or the mucus membrane in your body. The toxin is released will harm the person when it is released in such a place where it can be absorbed.

What is a Nonvenomous or Nonpoisonous Snake Bite?

A nonpoisonous or nonvenomous snake bite is a bite or a wound that is incapable of secreting toxins in your body. Nonpoisonous is usually distinguished from a dry bite. A dry bite is an indication that the toxins are not released in your body. A dry bite from a nonvenomous snake can lead to tissue damage and needs to be evaluated.

Snake Bite Symptoms

To diagnose and identify a snake bite, the following common symptoms are taken into consideration:

  • Two puncture wounds
  • Swelling or redness around the punctured wounds
  • Pain at the site of the wound
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating
  • Salivating
  • Numbness in the face and limbs

Specific Symptoms of Venomous Snakes

  1. Rattle snake

Rattle snakes are easily identifiable. Rattles snakes have rings at the end of their tails that they shake when they feel threatened. The movement of tail makes a rattling sound that gives you a warning to back away.

Rattle snake is considered as the largest of the venomous snakes and are found mostly in rocks and logs. The common symptoms associated with rattle snake bite include:

  • Severe pain
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness
  • Thirst
  1. Water moccasin or cotton mouths

The water moccasin is a type of pit viper and is commonly called as cotton mouth because its mouth is lined with a white cottony material. The average size of this snake is 50-55 inches and the adult snakes have dark tan skin with faint dark brown or black cross bands.

Young rattle snakes have brown or orange cross bands with a yellow colored tail. These snakes are mostly found in or near water. These snakes do not scare easily and are known to defend themselves when they feel threatened.

The symptoms of water moccasin are similar to copperhead bites. The common symptoms include:

  • Pain soon after the bite
  • Change in skin color
  • Shock
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness
  1. Copper heads

Copperhead snakes are reddish or golden in color having hourglass-shaped bands on their body.  Copper head snakes are generally 18-36 inches in length and are mostly found in forests, swamps, rocky areas and rivers. These snakes usually bite when you accidentally step on these snakes or when they are near you.

The common symptoms associated with copperhead snakes are:

  • Immediate pain
  • Change in skin color
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shock
  • Weakness
  1. Coral snakes

Coral snakes are often confused with non-venomous king snakes.  These snakes have black, yellow and red banding on them. The easy way to distinguish coral snakes is by the fact that the red bands touch the yellow bands. These coral snakes are usually found in woods, marshes and sandy area. Mostly coral snakes hide underground and in leaf piles.

The common symptoms associated with coral snakes are:

  • Pain that is not immediate after the bite
  • Symptoms usually set in hours after the bite
  • Convulsions
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Stomach pain
  • Change in skin color
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Headache
  • Shock
  • Paralysis

First aid for Snake Bites

Snake bites usually calls for an emergency treatment as quickly as possible. The simple tips you need to keep in mind when you experience a snake bite is:

  • Call for medical help
  • Note the time of snake bite
  • Try to keep calm and still as constant movement can cause the venom to travel more quickly in your body.
  • Remove the constricting clothing surrounding the bite

Atefa Noorain
Atefa Noorain

Atefa Noorain, (Microbiologist) former Head of the Department of Life Sciences, Assistant Professor of Microbiology at Sujatha Degree College for Women. She worked as an Associate Research Analyst at Thomson Reuters and an Associate Editor of two research journals. She has presented her research work in 3 International Conferences. She has written articles for national journals and international journals. She had been felicitated as a Young Speaker in the last conference. She has worked on Nanoparticles as a part of her research project and won the Best Scientist of the Day award.

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