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Heat Illnesses: Basic Information

Types of heat illnesses

Athletes who exercise in hot or humid weather are particularly at risk of heat illnesses:

  • Heat cramps
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heatstroke

Symptoms of impending heat illness

In addition to educating young athletes about both the importance of hydration and the dangers of heat-related illness, ensuring that they drink enough fluids, and taking precautions to reduce the risk of heat injury in children in hot and humid weather, you need to watch your child for symptoms of impending heat illness:

  • Weakness
  • Chills
  • Goose pimples on the chest and upper arms
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Faintness
  • Disorientation
  • Muscle cramping
  • Reduced or cessation of sweating

A child continuing to exercise when experiencing any of these symptoms could suffer a heat illness. 

Heat cramps


  • Mildest form of heat illness.
  • No medical attention required
  • Usually occurs during or after exercise
  • Usually affects only specific muscles exercised
  • Probably results from an imbalance of the body's fluid and electrolyte concentrations caused by a loss of electrolytes in sweat


  • Thirst
  • Chills
  • Clammy skin
  • Throbbing heart
  • Muscle pain
  • Spasms
  • Nausea


  • Move child to shade
  • Remove excess clothing
  • Have child drink 4 to 8 ounces of fluid with electrolytes (sports drinks) every 10 to 15 minutes
  • Add salt to foods (not by giving salt tablets)

Heat Exhaustion


  • More serious heat illness
  • May require medical attention
  • Probably results from a reduced blood volume due to excessive sweating, which causes blood to pool in the extremities, causing the child to faint or feel dizzy.


  • Nausea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Reduced sweating
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Dry mouth
  • Rectal temperature less than 104?F.