Millennium Post

Beware, it bites!

For snakebites – seek medical attention as soon as possible. Try to remember the colour and shape of the snake, which can help with identification and treatment.

Are venomous snakebites curable?

Treatment of snake bites can be divided into two phases. Phase one of snakebite treatment includes the emergency treatment on site and during transport to an appropriate healthcare facility. The healthcare facility stabilises the patient, administers antivenin, if deemed necessary, and provides supportive treatment.

In the past, there have been many home remedies and treatments, along with snakebite kits and other treatment methods, many of which have been shown to make the effects of the snakebite worse.

Consequently, guidelines have been issued, to be used after the threat of additional bites to the patient or others is eliminated, about what to DO and what NOT TO DO if a snakebite occurs. The following are the recommendations: Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Try to remember the colour and shape of the snake, which can help with identification and treatment of the snakebite. Be patient and remain as still as possible. This can slow down the spread of the venom. Apply first-aid if you cannot get to the hospital right away. Lay or sit down with the bite below the level of the heart. Wash the bite with soap and water. Cover the bite with a clean and dry dressing.

The second phase of treatment consists of stabilisation and supportive care, and when medically indicated, administration of antitoxin (antivenin) specific for the snake species and a tetanus booster vaccine. A good practice is to call your local poison control center or the National Poison Helpline AIIMS, New Delhi (1800 116 117), and also consult a toxicologist and a surgeon to further help the patient. Certain patients may require surgical treatment and admission to the hospital. The treatment of non-venomous snake bites includes local wound care at the site of the bite, removing snake teeth if left in the bite spot, attending to any trauma at the bite site and a tetanus booster, if needed. Some wounds may become infected and require additional treatment with antibiotics.

Besides, few other things also need to be taken into account while dealing with snakebites. Do not pick up the snake or try to trap it. Do not wait for symptoms to appear if bitten, rather seek immediate medical attention. Do not apply a tourniquet. Do not slash the wound with a knife. Do not suck out the venom. Do not apply ice or immerse the wound in water. Do not drink alcohol as a painkiller. Do not drink caffeinated beverages. Use of electric shocks for any snakebite should also be avoided.

(Views expressed and information provided are personal. Send your questions to

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