Snake venom consists of nerve toxins that can block or stimulate and kill the nervous system.
When the nerve toxins are injected into the blood, they cause paralysis of the muscles needed to breathe.
Depending on the hose, the paralysis can be very fast or last up to ten hours.
The poison of the Black Mamba consists mainly of powerful neurotoxins that can cause a rapid onset of muscle paralysis
Snake venom starts their paralyzing effects on muscles around the eyes (usually manifests as fixed dilated pupils, reduced eye movements and drooping eyelids).
If they are not treated with antivenom, these early signs will eventually be followed by increasing problems with talking, swallowing and eventually breathing.
Another potentially fatal effect of snake bite, rarely seen in other types of poison, is altered blood clotting.
Most dangerous snakes in Australia contain toxins that cause the body to destroy factors that help blood clot.
A more insidious effect is muscle destruction that is known as myotoxicity.
Although not as fast as the effect on blood clotting, heart function or nerve signaling, myotoxicity can also be fatal.
Typically, snake venom toxins dissolve the muscle cell membrane.
This is not only a painful experience, it also causes the muscle protein, known as myoglobin, to leak into the urine, potentially poisoning the kidneys.
Myotoxicity can also lead to an enormous increase in potassium levels in the blood, which are leached from the damaged muscle cells.
This effect can itself cause fatal damage to the normal heart rhythm.
Although much poison has evolved to quickly paralyze and digest prey, defense is another important poison action.
Apart from the physical trauma to the skin caused by a bite or sting, these poisons often contain toxins that work in different ways to injure cells, cause inflammation and even kill skin cells.
All this can cause severe pain.
Source: The conversation
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