Heat Cramps

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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How can heat cramps be prevented?

Prevention is the best treatment for heat cramps. If possible, try to avoid working or exercising in the heat of the day, but if it is required, acclimating to the hot weather is important. Drink plenty of fluids and if the activity lasts a prolonged period of time, consider using sports or balanced electrolyte drinks. This is especially true if significant sweating occurs and electrolytes are lost through sweat. Try to rest in cool or shaded areas whenever possible.

What is the prognosis for heat cramps?

Heat cramps resolve with relatively simple treatments including rest, hydration and stretching. It is important to remember that heat cramps are the initial presentation of heat related illness and may progress to the more serious conditions of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

REFERENCES:

Kravchenko J, etal. Minimization of Heatwave Mortality and Morbidity.American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2013: 44(3) 274-82

Schwellnus MP. Cause of Exercise Associated Muscle Cramps (EAMC) - altered neuromuscular control, dehydration or electrolyte depletion. Br J Sports Med 2009;43:401-408

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/17/2015

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