By Dr. Sunil Garg
Unfortunately because of ignorance and superstitions about snakebite in India many precious lives are lost. Thousands of people die of snakebite in India every year, mostly in rural India; yet there is no organized effort to cope up with the emergencies arising out of snakebites, especially in rural India.
Fatalities due to snakebites can be reduced to a great extent if proper first aid is done and victim is shifted to hospital timely. The best solution is to educate people as how to avoid getting bitten and what to do when bitten. There are two important aspects of snakebite management; the first-aid and then the timely medical management. It is important to know that –
-All snakes are not poisonous, so every snakebite is not going to result in death. -Even a poisonous bite is not always fatal. – Proper First Aid and then timely shifting to hospital can make a difference in the ultimate outcome. -First Aid – if not done properly could cause more harm than benefit. Symptoms: when someone is bitten by snake
– -Fang marks on the bitten site – Burning/ Swelling/Bleeding/severe pain at the site -Blurred vision -Numbness/tingling sensation -Increased thirst /Vomiting -Fever -Weakness/Dizziness/Fainting Remember
As a layman one should treat every snakebite as potentially dangerous and rush to the hospital immediately. No attempt should be made to kill the snake to carry it along to the hospital. It would result in delaying the arrival of the patient to the hospital and is potentially dangerous for the person who will attempt killing the snake. First Aid & Treatment
If a snake bites someone, just remember two things: DON’T PANIC GO TO THE HOSPITAL IMMEDIATELY- Don’t waste precious time on quack’s remedies. In case of snakebite, a well-administered first-aid is very important. What to do if someone is bitten by snake?
1- Call the emergency 2- Assure the victim & keep calm 3- Clean the wound with antiseptic solution. 4- The limb, which has been affected by the bite, should be immobilized with splint and kept below the level of the heart. A compression bandage (not tight) should cover the entire limb with the splint 5- Remove constricting clothing and jewellry from the extremity. The area may swell and constricting items will cause tissue death. What not to do –
• Do not suck the wound with mouth.
• Do not put ice on the site of bite. Research has shown it to be potentially harmful. • No cable, string or rubber tourniquets to be used, this cut off the blood flow completely and may result in amputation of the affected limb. • No incision at the bitten site. Such measures have not proved useful and cause additional injury, loss of blood, infection, waste of time. • Potassium permanganate should never be used.
Dr. Sunil Garg is a Critical care (ICU) specialist, based in Udaipur. By this article his aim is to create awareness among people how to go about and deal with commonly encountered emergency medical situations till one gets medical help.