In the event of a venomous snake bite, antivenom, sometimes called antivenin, is the only treatment. While these miraculous drugs cannot reverse the damage that the venom has already caused you, they do stop the venom in its tracks. So, how exactly does it work? Of course, you’ll also want to know which snakes are venomous, how to avoid them, and what to do if you’ve been bitten by one. Snake safety has changed a lot over the decades, and there is lots of false information floating around, so you may need this refresher.
Poison or Venom?
Snakes are not poisonous, they are venomous. Venom is a group of proteins and enzymes which have a negative effect on the snake’s prey, from killing them, to immobilizing them, even to helping digest them. There are three main types of venom a snake can have (and they all can deliver more than one of these in a single bite):
- Hemotoxic: Hemo means blood, so this venom effects the blood. It can cause bleeding, make that bleeding (or the bleeding from the bite) worse by inhibiting your ability to clot (or scab). Then again, hemotoxins can also clot your blood so much that it can no longer flow, sometimes causing stroke or heart failure.
- Cytotoxic: Cyto means cell. This type of venom can break down cells, in a form of digestion. It can destroy your flesh, perhaps to the point that you lose your limb or life. Snakes commonly use this venom to begin digesting their prey.
- Neurotoxic: Neuro means nerves, so this venom effects the nervous system and the brain. These toxins will mess with your body’s most vital functions, from moving to breathing. Usually, these toxins are the fastest to take effect and can end in death by paralysis of…