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Heat Cramps First Aid

Heat cramps are common when you work or exercise in a hot environment. The symptoms may appear then or a few hours later. They are painful and cause spasms for a brief period that usually go away. Those who sweat a lot more are at risk of heat cramps than others. Drinking a lot of water and resting awhile can help to relieve you from the cramps. These cramps are also known as muscle spasms.

Getting the affected person to cool down in a shaded place and providing the person with enough fluids before anything else will help bring down the body temperature and dehydration levels.

The regions of the body that get most affected, especially the larger muscles

  • Thighs
  • Calves
  • Shoulders
  • Abdominal wall
  • Back
  • arms

Causes of heat cramps

Studies aren’t very clear about how heat cramps are caused, and the most probable reason would be the imbalance in the electrolyte composition in the body. The loss of fluids in the body can sometimes result in cramps.

 Electrolytes contain essential minerals such as

  • sodium
  • potassium
  • calcium
  • magnesium

 which have to be replenished from time to time as they get used up faster during the hot weather and due to hard work. The muscles get easily fatigued without sufficient electrolytes. The essential salts are a part of the chemical reactions in the muscles. Heat cramps are the least serious than other heat illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and stroke. Though heat cramps may seem painful and irritating, they disappear after some time.

Persons at risk

  • Children
  • Elderly
  • Obese
  • Persons With Previous Health Conditions
  • Those who consume alcohol And indulge In Strenuous Physical Activity
  • Who Doesn’t Drink Enough Fluids
  • Those On Heavy Medication
  • Drugs Abusers

First aid for heat cramps that aren’t severe

  • Rest in a cool place and have enough fluids to restore the electrolytes in the body.
  • Check the body temperature to see if it has risen.
  • Cool down your body by sponging it with cold water or covering it with a wet cloth. Let someone fan you to cool the skin.
  • Applying cold presses (not directly) to the neck, groin, and armpits can also reduce the temperature.
  • Add a bit of salt before drinking the water to help relieve cramps and replenish the electrolyte balance in the body.
  • After you feel a little better, try a range of motion, including stretching. Perhaps a gentle massage to the affected muscles would do the trick.
  • Do not resume the physical activity that caused the heat cramps; also, do not move in the hot and humid environment until the heat cramps go away.
  • The loss of salt and water in the body can be regained by having electrolyte solutions that can be bought over the counter in medical stores.
  • Check the body’s temperature regularly to determine whether first aid has worked. If not, go to the doctor.
  • For quick relief and faster rehydration, intervenous saline is used.

When to seek the doctor’s help

  • The cramps stay even after rest and having enough fluids.
  • The cramps accompany other health conditions
  • They are debilitating, and the person isn’t able to do any work at all.
  • Heat exhaustion is coupled with the cramps
  • The affected person is nauseous and vomiting
  • The heat cramps are causing
  1. Dizziness
  2. Fatigue
  3. Headache
  4. Increase in heartbeat
  5. shortness of breath
  6. increase in body temperature

It must be noted that heat cramps usually don’t cause permanent damage to the body. If the cramps last longer, it may be suspected that the affected person may be suffering from an underlying heart condition. Such occurrences occur frequently. It is Mandatory to Notify a doctor, who will conduct further tests to be sure.

When a person starts to feel heat cramps, it would be best to stop what they are doing and try to recover from them; otherwise, they could develop the next level of heat illness.


Heat cramps can occur during the activity or several hours later. The cramping may accompany pain or jerk involuntarily. But these can be treated with first aid, and you hardly need to go to the doctor. Heat cramps aren’t severe conditions but can progress to one if first aid isn’t provided.

  1. The Centre for disease control and Prevention

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness

  1. The Mayo clinic

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