First of all, scorpion stings don't have a lot to do with urology. However, they have a lot to do with life in the desert. So it's kinda a big deal when the New England Journal of Medicine recently devoted an entire article to scorpion stings, or "scorpion envenomation" as they call it. Here's Dr. Hong's takeaway on scorpion stings:
- More than a million stings happen worldwide each year. Hundreds of thousands of people get stung in Mexico by a particularly nasty kind of scorpion called centruroides
- Different scorpions have different reactions, though most have some sort of effect on the neuromuscular system.
- It would be rare to have mental effects (i.e., go crazy) after scorpion sting because the venom cannot cross into the brain
- Only 10% of stings result in severe symptoms, though most of those dangerous stings happen in children
- Children and other vulnerable people can theoretically die from scorpion sting
- Believe it or not, the treatment for scorpion stings is controversial in the medical literature. Antivenom does exist but scientists do not agree whether it is truly effective or not.
- Antivenom is really expensive, so scientists seem to think that it should be reserved for really serious cases of scorpion sting
Bottom line, scorpion stings happen when you're living in the desert. Most stings are relatively harmless but you should go immediately to the nearest Emergency Room if you experience agitation, difficulty breathing, or sudden drop in blood pressure (passing out).
If you experience a scorpion sting, contact your local primary care or emergency provider. (In other words, Dr. Hong should not be your first line of defense on this one.) If you want to learn more about Dr. Hong or discuss urology matters with him, contact us to set up an appointment.