Your biggest threat out in nature is probably not a big hairy bear. Spiders and snakes are more common. Some can be fatal. Before you put your hand or foot in any spot that it not out in the open, check for anything that might hurt you. For example, before you put your feet into shoes, make sure a spider or snake has not been hiding inside. When you pull back a rock or old piece of wood, be wary. Wear boots and long pants when working where spiders and snakes might be hiding. This month we discuss spiders; next month we will take a look at the snakes around us.
Which are true?
a. As soon as a poisonous spider bites you, you feel intense pain and pass out.
b. Symptoms of a poison spider bite can develop hours after you are bit.
c. If you are bitten, you should take a swig of whiskey
Most spiders are not poisonous and their bites annoying but not life threatening. However, we do have the scary brown recluse and black widow spiders.
Black widow spiders have distinctive “hourglass” marking on the belly, but don’t try to look. You can usually see the bright red spot from a distance. The Black Widow Spider bite is gentle; it might feel like a needle prick. You might not even notice the bite. But then the swelling starts. You might see slight red marks. Then intense pain; abdominal pain; vomiting; muscle stiffness, twitches and cramps; sweating; headache, and more swelling occurs.
The brown recluse spider is about the size of a quarter. It has a violin-shaped marking on its back, but this mark can be hard to see and you don’t want to look for it either. If a brown recluse spider bites you, you might feel a mild stinging but within 8 hours, you could have intense pain, redness, and deep purple in the bite area. A red ring may develop around the bite. You may have fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and brown urine. Not good.
If a spider bites you, clean the area well with soap and water if you can. Try to control the swelling by applying cool compresses (wet cloths). Remove jewelry and anything else that can be constricting if swell occurs. If possible, and safe, try to collect the spider so it can be identified. If you have any symptoms beyond a small bite or if you suspect it was a venous spider, seek medical attention. It is a medical emergency as the venom from the spider can destroy tissue.
Resources: Poison Control Center, www.poisoncontroltampa.org, 1-800-222-1222
Dr. Nancy Rudner Lugo, local workplace nurse coach with HealthAction.biz, helps individuals and employees understand their health, make healthy choices and achieve their health goals. Send your questions to [email protected]