Monday, April 27, 2009

Treating Snakebites

Here in the Inter-Mountain West, snakebites are common. Seems I am questioned daily about snakebite treatment AND the ever prevelant "cut & suck" myth. So to address the issue here is the simple "down & dirty":

Dont: "Cut & Suck", there is simply NO evidence that this method works. In fact by slicing into the bitten area, exposure to infection may be heightened with minimal health benefit. According to experts, about 20% of bites are "dry", meaning lacking venom. Suction devices have shown to be ineffective as well, possibly increasing damage to surrounding tissue.

Dont: Apply cold packs. Long term application of cold can cause reduced circulation, increased tissue damage and possibly induce frostbite.

Dont: Apply a tourniquet. This restriction of blood flow will effectively slow the spread of venom. This concentration of venom can increase cell damage and increase the risk of severe infection. Allowing the "free flow" of the venom can dilute the toxin, reducing tissue damage.

DO: Seek medical treatment AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!! Treat the wound as you would any punture, clean and apply non-restrictive bandages, monitor victim for shock and evacuate(carry the victim out if possible or assist in slow hike-out). Anti-venom is the only effective treatment.

NOTE: Most snakebites happen to individuals who are "poking, proding, playing "Croc Hunter", in other words messing with the snake!!". I.E. "You mess with the snake, You get the FANGS".

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

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