Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee
President, Heart Care Foundation of India
People often panic if they have been bitten or stung. You should tell the patient that many snakes, spiders, insects and sea creatures are harmless and that even the bites and stings of dangerous animals often do not cause poisoning.
Keep the patient calm and still. Moving the bitten or stung limb speeds up the spread of venom to the rest of the body. Fear and excitement also make the patient worse. The patient should be told not to use the limb and to keep it still and below the level of the heart. The limb may swell after a while, so take off the patient’s rings, watch, bracelets, anklets and shoes as soon as possible. A splint and a sling may help to keep the limb still.
*Do not suck venom out of the wound.
*Do not use a tourniquet or tight bandage.
*Do not put chemicals or medicines on the wound or inject them into the wound (for e.g., potassium permanganate crystals).
*Do not put ice packs on the wound.
*Do not use proprietary snake bite kits.
*The patient should lie on one side in the recovery position so that the airway is clear, in case or vomiting or fainting.
*Do not give the patient anything by mouth – no food, alcohol, medicines or drinks. However, if it is likely to be a long time before the patient gets medical care, give the patient water to drink to stop dehydration.
*Try to identify the animal, but do not try to catch it or keep it if this will put you, the patient or others at risk. If the animal is dead take it to hospital with the patient, but handle it very carefully, because even dead animals can sometimes inject venom.