Heat Cramps: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 10/26/2021

Heat cramps are a type of heat-related illness characterized by intermittent, involuntary spasms of larger muscles. Heat cramps are an early type of heat-related illness; more severe types include heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Signs and symptoms include

  • painful cramps, especially in the legs, and
  • profuse sweating.

Other associated signs and symptoms can include

Heat cramps can also occur up to a few hours after the physical activity has been completed.

Cause of Heat Cramps

Heat cramps occur due to physical activity in hot weather. People with impaired temperature control mechanisms, such as infants, young children, and the elderly, are at a greater risk of heat cramps as well as those who work or exercise outdoors in hot weather.

Other heat cramps symptoms and signs

  • Dehydration
  • Flushed, Moist Skin
  • Mild Fever (Usually Less Than 102.5 F)
  • Painful Cramps, Especially in the Legs
  • Profuse Sweating


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.