- First Aid Essentials Slideshow
- Take the Trauma and First Aid Quiz
- First Aid Sprains & Strains Slideshow Pictures
- Patient Comments: Heat-Related Illness - Causes
- Patient Comments: Heat-Related Illness - Experience
- Find a local Doctor in your town
Quick GuideDehydration: Causes, Symptoms & Tips to Stay Hydrated
Heat cramps usually affect people who sweat significantly during strenuous activity. This sweating depletes the body's salt and moisture. The low salt level in the muscles causes painful muscle cramps, often following exercise. Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion.
What are the signs and symptoms of heat cramps?
Heat cramps are muscle pains or muscle spasms (usually in the abdomen, arms, or legs) that may occur in association with strenuous activity. If the affected person has heart problems or are on a low sodium diet, seek medical attention for heat cramps.
What is the treatment for heat cramps?
- Stop all activity, and sit and rest in a cool place.
- Drink water or a sports beverage, and eat a salty snack.
- Passively stretch the affected muscles.
- Do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours after the cramps have subsided as further exertion can lead to heat exhaustion or rarely, heat stroke.
- Seek medical attention for heat cramps if they do not subside in 1 hour.
Heat syncope (fainting)
Heat syncope is a fainting episode that occurs in the heat, either during prolonged standing or exercise, or when rapidly standing from a lying or sitting position. It typically occurs in individuals who are not acclimatized to the heat. Dehydration can also contribute to this condition.
What are the signs and symptoms of heat syncope?
- dizziness or lightheadedness, and
What is the treatment for heat syncope?
- Sit and rest in a cool place. The affected individual may also lie down and elevate the legs above the level of the heart.
- Drink water or a sports beverage.
- Seek immediate medical attention for repeated episodes of fainting, or if the individual experiences chest pain, seizures, or confusion.