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Heat cramps

Heat cramps

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Heat cramps are a type of muscle cramp that can occur during physical activity in hot and humid environments. They are caused by dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes in the body, particularly sodium, and potassium.

The symptoms of heat cramps typically include muscle pain and spasms, usually in the legs, arms, or abdomen. The affected muscles may feel hard to the touch and may be visibly twitching or contracting. The person may also experience sweating, fatigue, and weakness.

Heat cramps are generally not serious and can be treated with rest, cooling measures, and rehydration. Treatment may include moving the person to a cooler environment, removing excess clothing, providing fluids that contain electrolytes, and gently stretching or massaging the affected muscles.

Prevention of heat cramps involves taking steps to avoid dehydration and maintain proper electrolyte balance. This may include drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after physical activity in hot weather, consuming foods and drinks that contain electrolytes, and taking breaks and seeking shade or air-conditioned environments as needed.

It is important to take heat-related illnesses seriously and seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen, especially in young children, older adults, and individuals with certain medical conditions. Heat cramps can be a warning sign of more serious heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which require immediate medical attention.

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  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Heat-Related Illness. Retrieved from
  • Mayo Clinic. (2020). Heat cramps: Symptoms and causes. Retrieved from