JellyFish Facts

Jellyfish Stings Can Vary In Severity

Jellyfish Stings Can Vary In Severity
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Jellyfish Stings Can Vary In Severity

Jellyfish are found in nearly every sea or ocean. Some jellyfish are only about the size of beans, while others can be enormous creatures that trail yards of stinging tentacles behind them. The tentacles are used to procure food for the jellyfish, and the stinging cells, nematocysts, are to help subdue the prey. Jellyfish are totally uninterested in human beings and do not try to attack people; the problem arises when jellyfish and humans are sharing the same bit of the ocean. There are even a few species of jellyfish that do not possess tentacles at all and pose absolutely no threat to people.

First Aid For Stings That Are Low In Toxicity


Some stings from jellyfish will cause irritation and burning, but will not go on to cause any other severe symptoms. For a sting of this kind, wash the affected area off with sea water. Do not use fresh water - this will cause more pain. Refrain from rubbing on the area and do not use ice packs to try to relieve the pain.

Vinegar can then be used to rinse the sting site. In most cases, when someone has been stung by a jellyfish, there are still stinging cells attached to them that will continue to discharge venom. Vinegar will often prevent further release of toxins.

Use shaving cream or a paste made from baking soda and water on the rash area and then shave it with a razor, knife, or even a credit card. This will remove any remaining stinging cells. Over the counter pain relievers can help to make the person more comfortable, and taking an antihistamine will also assist in reducing inflammation.

What To Do When The Stings Cause A Severe Reaction


A dangerous reaction to a jellyfish sting can result if the toxin in the stinging cells is especially potent, or if the individual who has been stung has an allergic reaction to the sting. If the tentacles of the jellyfish are still wrapped around any part of the body, remove them as quickly as possible, but take care not to get stung yourself. Wear rubber gloves and use tweezers to remove the tentacles as they will keep releasing poisons for as long as they are on the person's body. As with a milder sting, use salt water and then vinegar to rinse of the affected spot, and try to 'shave' off the stinging cells.

When the jellyfish has injected a dangerous toxin, the victim will soon give signs of its effects, such as vomiting, difficulty breathing, coma, shock, and cardiac arrest. If emergency services have not arrived, be prepared to treat the patient for shock at the very least - elevate the feet, turn the head to the side in case of vomiting, and make sure they are neither hot nor cold. If the person suffers a heart attack from the sting, or stops breathing, administer CPR immediately. Some jellyfish stings can also cause paralysis. Even the reaction to a relatively harmless jellyfish can be magnified if the sea is filled with them and the person is stung by hundreds of jellyfish.

Jellyfish generally move at the whim of the ocean and will appear unexpectedly at a beach that had been jellyfish free for some time. Keep an eye on jellyfish warnings, especially if you are in an area where dangerous jellyfish are found, before going into the water.

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Written by and Sudarsana Sinha.

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