Last Updated on Jun 24, 2012

 Overview

  • Heat cramps are involuntary muscle spasms 
  • They are caused by deficiency of water and sodium 
  • Heat cramps are painful, may be severe and prolonged
  • Heavy exercising in hot weather causes excessive sweating
  • This causes electrolyte deficiency resulting in muscle cramps
  • Muscles most affected are the voluntary muscles of- 
    a. Calves
    b. Arms
    c. Thighs
    d. Back 
    e. Abdomen
  • Heat cramps are the least serious of all heat injuries
  • It is a warning sign for heat exhaustion

Risk factors

  • Negative sodium balance
  • Diuretic medications
  • Absence of acclimatization / adaptation

Causes
  • Heat
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive sweating
  • Loss of body salts
  • Muscle stress
  • Poor body condition

Symptoms


Some of the most common symptoms are:
  • Dizzy feeling
  • Fainting 
  • Exhaustion 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hot/sweaty skin
Treatment
  • Rest briefly and cool down 
  • Manual pressure / massage must be applied to the affected muscle
  • Drink one quart of water with one teaspoon of salt 
  • Drink some clear juice / electrolyte-containing sports drink 
  • Practice gentle stretching exercise of the affected muscle 
  • Seek medical help if the cramps remain after 1 hour 

Prognosis
 


Heat cramps usually improves with:
  • An electrolyte drink 
  • Cool shade  
  • Rest
Prevention
  • Adequate fluids must be taken periodically
  • Fluids must be taken before feeling thirsty
  • Avoid heavy sweaty exercises in humid conditions
  • Make sure to drink fluids while exercising

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