So what happens when you get bit by a black widow? Although Latrodectism, the illness caused by a venomous black widow bite, can result in significant effects, they tend to be temporary, and death is extremely unlikely.
Of the fewer than 10 people who die from a spider bite in the United States every year, usually zero of those are the result of a black widow bite. However, the temporary things that do happen to some who get bit by a black widow can be pretty significant and painful.
Why do Black Widows bite?
Black Widow Toxicity
More than half of black widow bites are dry, lacking venom, meaning that what happens when you get bit by a black widow in this case can be very minimal. The reason for this variance is because venom takes quite a bit of energy to produce, so they want to ensure that it is only used when absolutely necessary, such as when it believes that its life is in danger. When no venom is injected, the only thing that generally results is a pin-prick type of sensation at the time of the bite.
Unfortunately, intent does not matter when it comes to black widow spiders feeling threatened as most bites are the result of a person doing nothing intentionally threatening.
And the more a black widow feels threatened, the more venom is apt to be injected into the person, which results in a much stronger reaction to the bite.
What Happens When You Get Bit by a Black Widow with Venom?
In that case, the bit person will oftentimes experience several things in addition to the initial pin-prick sensation and the tiny prick marks or redness sometimes seen at the sight of the bite. However, these effects often do not occur quickly as many people can carry on their regular business in the immediate aftermath of a venomous black widow bite. In fact, the following effects sometimes never end up occurring even when venom has been discharged.
Signs of a Black Widow Bite
As the venom spreads from the bite towards the heart, it can cause painful cramping and muscle spasms near and far from the site of the bite, normally in the back, shoulders and thighs.
Many of the more painful spasms will occur around the stomach. Some compare them to the sensations of Appendicitis.
The pain will usually be quite intense at this point, and being able to walk will sometimes become impossible at this point.
This tremendous amount of pain is the result of the Alpha-Latrotoxin that has been released in the venom causing the bit person’s nerve cells to overwhelm the central nervous system when all of their neurotransmitters are released at the same time.
Black Widow Bite Treatment
Most people who get black widow bite treatment will then be given a variety of painkillers and muscle relaxants such as barbiturates and morphine. However, the venom may affect breathing to such a level that providing any or too many painkillers may increase the danger resulting from the bite, so these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
Over the next few days, the venom can cause profuse sweating, hallucinations, nausea and a general inability to think as clearly as had been the case prior to being bit.
Blood pressure and heart rates may be altered as a result of the bite as well.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel as these memorable effects will start dissipating after a few days and generally be gone about five or six days after the bite.
Can you die from a Black Widow Spider Bite?
Are There Any Long-Term Effects?
What happens when you get bit by a black widow on long term? Muscle weakness and pain, muscle spasms and simply not being as energetic as had been the case prior to the bite occurring can persist for weeks or months afterwards. However, long-term effects are unlikely despite how likely they may feel during the few days immediately following the black widow bite.