Snakebite Diagnosis


A snakebite is diagnosed based on the history of the event. Identification or description of the snake would help, because not all snakes are venomous, and because there are different kinds of anti-venom for different species of snakes. In Australia, the doctor may use a kit to determine the specific type of snakebite.

The doctor also looks for evidence of fang marks or local trauma in the area of the bite. Pain and swelling come with many snakebite.

  • The doctor treats breathing problems, shock, and/or immediately life-threatening injuries even before a full workup is complete.
  • The wound needs to be examined and cleaned.
  • The doctor will likely send blood and urine samples to a laboratory to look for evidence of bleeding, problems in the blood clotting system, kidney problems, or muscle death. These problems may not be apparent at first, but can have dire consequences if missed.
  • The victim is monitored to look for worsening symptoms at the wound site, or worsening symptoms in the breathing or cardiovascular systems.
  • A rare complication in very swollen limbs is compartment syndrome. Limbs are divided into compartments of muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. Severe swelling can cut off the blood circulation to a compartment. When the circulation is cut off, the victim usually has severe pain and numbness. Later, the limb may get white and cold. If not treated in time, the limb may need to be amputated.


SnakeBite FACT:

Each year, an estimated 7,000–8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States, and about 5 of those people die. The number of deaths would be much higher if people did not seek medical care.

Learn how to provide proper and appropriate First Aid for Snakebite! Enroll in our First Aid courses now!

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