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How Dangerous Is a Black Widow Spider Bite?

Black Widows carry potent venom.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The potential danger of the black widow spider bite depends on several factors. These include the gender of the spider, the health and age of the individual bitten, and the chance that allergy to spider bites could be present. Caution and emergency medical attention are advised for those who believe they have been bitten by a black widow, but in most cases, the likelihood of continuing illness or death from a bite is extremely minimal. The risk of complications does increase without medical attention.

The first qualifier in determining the danger of a black widow spider bite is gender. Female spiders are much more dangerous than males and can inject much higher amounts of venom. Females are about three times as large as males with a body that is round and full in shape, while the smaller male spiders with the hourglass marking have a more prolonged and tube-like body. Examining pictures of the differences on the Internet is a good way to determine if a person has received a male or female bite. The male bite may not cause any symptoms, but if they are present, medical care should be sought.

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A black widow spider bite is more dangerous to certain people. Very young children and very old or otherwise medically fragile individuals are likely to react more strongly to a bite. Those with high blood pressure are also more at risk. Due to the remote possibility of a fatal reaction in everyone, getting medical help quickly is always advised, but it is especially vital that this caution be observed for those who are most at risk from a bite.

Death may also occur simply from getting a spider bite. Some people are allergic to the chemicals in venom, poisonous or not, and can begin to have an anaphylactic shock reaction. This includes symptoms like hives, swelling of the mouth, lips, and tongue, difficulty breathing, asthma, and unconsciousness. Without treatment this reaction can be fatal. People with known allergies to various bug bites may carry epinephrine, and this shot should be delivered immediately. A person should also get emergency help, as they may still suffer from black widow spider bite poisoning.

To reduce the dangers associated with getting a black widow spider bite, people should call emergency services if they notice that a bite has occurred. The bite has been described as anything from a pinprick to a sudden painful and stinging sensation. A mark on the skin that has two fang imprints can be another indication, especially when accompanied by pain, redness and swelling at or around the bite mark. Other symptoms can include dizziness, constriction of the chest, sweating, perspiration, a rash or itchy sensations, throwing up, headache, and muscle weakness. Prompt medical attention has the advantage of reducing or eliminating many of these symptoms, just as it significantly lowers fatality rates.

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