Snake bite management has remained a confusing chapter in medical books. The complexity of snake venom and its diverse medical complications on the human body has rendered us clueless as to which is the best ‘First Aid’ for a snake bite victim. There are few medical boards preferring application of external force on the bitten limb, in the shape of tourniquets and ligatures while few others oppose that practice. At Friends of Snakes, the best First Aid is something that would help us save not just the life – also the limb!
We have to understand that most of the common venomous snakes in India – the Vipers and the other Cobra species have venom that causes serious damage to the bite area. Any external force applied to restrict the blood flow might as well confine the venom to a smaller area of the limb causing severe and irreversible tissue damage. In such events one could save the life but might have to part with the damaged limb or a digit because of necrosis and other complications. Moreover, when a ligature or a tourniquet is loosened after a period of constriction, the venom could enter the system much faster leading to respiratory failure or other complication. Also, when we are using these external applications for a longer time, we cut the oxygen and blood supply to the affected limb leading to hypoxia and necrosis.