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Heat Cramps Symptoms and Treatment

What are heat cramps?

  • Painful muscle spasms
  • Not a medical emergency; can be treated by first aid responders

  • Usually occurs during or after exercise

  • Usually sart by affecting the specific muscles recently exercised

  • Can increase in severity by increasing the number of muscles affected

  • In severe cases can involve all skelatal muscles in the body
  • Probably results from

    • dehydration (either from losses of fluid from sweat or lack of re-hydrating from a pervious exercise/play session)

    • electrolyte loss through sweat

    • Fatigue

Heat cramps symptoms:

  • Muscle painor a feeling of "twinges"

  • Spasms

  • Visual evidence that muscles have tightened up

  • Possible nausea and thirst as a result of dehydration.

Heat cramps: treatment

  • Remove child from practice or game and into the shade

  • Have the child sip or drink fluids with electrolytes (sports drinks) continually until symptoms stop.

    • Avoid "sloshy" feeling or excessive drinking of fluids

    • Good rule of thumb: continue sipping after cramps stop until the child has the urge to urinate

  • Gently massage the affected muscles

  • Massage the affected muscles with ice bags (if possible, and if tolerated by the child)

  • Gently stretch the affected muscles

  • Add salt to foods (not by giving salt tablets)

  • If symptoms persist and the child cannot tolerate fluids by mouth, bring the child to a hospital or doctor's office (no need to call an ambulance)

Revised May 19, 2010
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