The spider’s bite is of great importance to its survival. The bite delivers a toxin that will be used to paralyze its prey, enabling the spider to move the doomed insect without much struggle. Most spider bites, though painful are not lethal to healthy humans. Each spider injects an amount of venom into its human victim, but generally unless it is a known deadly spider, the victim rarely suffers a serious allergic reaction. While this is the case for most, it is always advisable to contact a trained medical professional and submit to their observation.
The typical spider bite can cause itching at the injection site, pain, redness, and swelling. Some of the more dangerous spiders such as Black Widow spiders and Brown Recluse spider may cause an individual to have more severe reactions. These reactions may include:
- heightened anxiety
- body aches
- stomach cramps
- leg cramps
- rapid pulse
- difficulty breathing
While the average person can heal from spider bites without any long term side-effects, this is never a certain outcome. On occasion, depending how the body reacts to the venom, secondary infections can arise, some causing permanent damage. These infections can be:
- Hemolysis, a condition when the red blood cells burst and internal bleeding begins
- Diminished platelet count
- Kidney damage
- Coma and death
These side effects are most severe in children, the elderly, and those with weakened or compromised immune systems. It is important to seek medical attention in the event that one of these categories of victims receive a bite. Never attempt to treat these groups without the assistance of a medical professional. They are most likely to develop the most severe complications and die.
Spider Bite Symptoms as seen in the Brown Recluse
The most notable spider bite symptoms are exampled by the Brown Recluse spider.
Although shy and non-aggressive, the Brown Recluse has a painful and toxic bite. They do not have big fangs so the bite does not penetrate deep beneath the surface so it is not the fangs but the toxicity of the venom that causes the biggest problem. The neurotoxin counteracts cellular interaction of the nerve cells. Yet it is not the neurotoxin that is of the greatest concern of the bite victim but rather the necrotic properties found in the venom. The fast-acting neurotoxin can cause rapid tissue loss.
Because the Brown Recluse spider’s fangs are no thicker than a staple they are unable to bite through most clothing. Therefore most bites are on exposed areas of skin such as the feet and legs, hands, necks, and arms. The bite appears as two symmetrical marks about the sized of pin heads. A small red ring will encompass the fang marks and the affected area will be painful to the touch. In the next 2-8 hours a small pus filled cyst will raise to the surface. If medical personnel have not intervened at this point, the pustule and venom will spread downward, discoloring the infection site from red, proceeding to white, and then blue. Once the tissue has turned blue, tissue damage is apparent. Quite rapidly, the venom work to burrow out a hole in the wound site and can reach down to the bone. Bodily symptoms increase as more time passes.
Spider Bite Symptoms as seen in the Black Widow
Most spider bites are painful but not always fatal. In most instances washing the wounded area with soap and applying a bit of hydrocortisone anti-itch cream for a few days will resolve the problem. However, in the instance that one is bitten by the Black Widow spider it is always advisable to seek immediate medical attention at the soonest possibility. The neurotoxic venom injected via hollowed fangs into the skin of the unsuspecting human is considered the most deadly venom in North America. Typically the bite is given by a female Black Widow spider who has perceived a threat on her web or egg sac. The female is more dangerous due to its larger venom sac.
When bitten by a Black Widow spider many do not register the short stabbing pain as a spider bite. In most cases, if the affected area is not a highly sensitive location the bite might not be noticed until slight swelling and a red ring appear around two tiny puncture marks. Physical symptoms of the Black Widow spider bite may appear within the first two hours following a bite. While many have very little side effects, these are the common complaints listed among Black Widow bite victims:
- Intense muscular cramping which may cause cramping or tremor. Cramping usually originates in the abdomen and spreads to the back, shoulders, and thighs.
- Neurological side effects of the bite include headache and increased anxiety.
- The skin may become intensely itchy and sweating may occur, but in rare cases will there be any necrosis (dying and sloughing) of the skin.
- Weakness, labored breathing, fever, nausea and increased blood pressure are also indications of the venom moving though the body of the victim.
Most symptoms will disappear within the following day, leaving little to no long-term complications, but these symptoms will need to be addressed by a medical professional. While a Black Widow spider bite related death has not been reported in the United States in over ten years, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and children are more likely to die as a result of a bite.
Even though today’s economy is painful and the cost of living increases every day, it is important not be passive when bitten by a spider. Your health in not something than you can afford to take lightly, especially we you can see how dangerous these eight-legged arachnids can be. Ignoring the symptoms of a spider bite in hopes that the wound will heal is not always a sure outcome. One should always err on the side of caution and seek out professional advice when you discover you are suffering from the symptoms of a spider bite.