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Benadryl for Snakebites?

What do you think about giving Benadryl as a sedative for a snakebite victim? Or just having it handy for panic situations?

Question:

What do you think about giving Benadryl as a sedative for a snakebite victim? Or just having it handy for panic situations?

Submitted by - Brendan H., Secane, PA

Answer:

Although I understand your reasoning (at least I think I do), giving Benadryl to a snakebite victim will probably provide no benefit in usual doses. If you give a high enough dose to calm a truly panicky patient (“Oh my God,” he screamed, “a snake bit me!”), you will probably alter his level of consciousness (LOC) chemically–something you would rather not do, since monitoring LOC is an important aspect of caring for the bite. The more the venom alters the victim’s LOC, the more serious the injury is.

The only definitive treatment for venomous snakebite is antivenin. In the meantime, keep the patient as calm and still as possible, and keep the bite site immobilized with a splint, With that in mind, wilderness patients are often slowly walked out because getting to antivenin is more important than complete physical stillness.

I do like having Benadryl in my first-aid kit. It’s useful as an antihistamine for treating bee stings, as well as helping the slightly unsettled person calm down and sleep better.

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