Snakebite: Symptoms of a Pit Viper Bite - Topic Overview
Pit vipers, such as the
copperhead , and
cottonmouth (also called water moccasin), are
poisonous (venomous) snakes. They leave one, two, or three puncture marks on
the skin, but you won't always see any marks.
Symptoms of a pit
viper snakebite usually appear within a few minutes to a few hours after a bite
and may include:
- Severe, immediate pain with rapid
- Bruising of the skin.
- Changes in heart rate or rhythm.
- A metallic,
rubbery, or minty taste in the mouth.
- Numbness or tingling around
the mouth, tongue, scalp, feet, or the bite area.
- Swelling in lymph
nodes near the bite.
- Signs of shock.
Other symptoms may be caused by the bite itself or from fear
or worry after being bitten. You may:
- Feel very worried or confused.
or feel like you might faint.
- Sweat and have chills.
sick to your stomach or vomit.
- Feel weak or dizzy.
The severity of symptoms will depend on the type of snake
that bit you, how much venom was injected with the bite (envenomation), and
health risks. Even if you do not have symptoms within
8 hours of a bite, continue to watch for symptoms for up to 2 weeks.
If you do not have symptoms within 8 to 12 hours, the snake might not
have injected any venom; this is called a dry bite. At least 25%, perhaps up to
50%, of bites are dry.
- Dry bites or bites where only a very small amount
of venom is injected may cause slight bleeding, pain, and swelling at the bite
- If a moderate amount of venom was injected, you are more
likely to have severe pain, swelling of the whole limb, and general ill
feelings, such as nausea, vomiting, and weakness. Swelling of the whole limb is
an effect of the venom and can cause
compartment syndrome. This is rare.
amounts of venom usually cause severe pain and severe swelling. You may have
trouble breathing, moderate to severe bleeding, and signs of shock after this
type of bite.
If venom is injected, about 35% are mild envenomations, 25%
are moderate envenomations, and 10% to 15% are severe.
important to remember that a snake only injects part of its venom with each
bite, so it can still hurt you after the first strike. A dead snake, even one
with a severed head, can bite and release venom through reflexes for up to 90
minutes after it dies.