Heat Cramps

Dr. Ayush PandeyMBBS,PG Diploma

November 29, 2018

March 06, 2020

Heat Cramps
Heat Cramps

What are heat cramps?

Heat cramps refer to muscle pain or spasms usually occurring in the arms or legs. Sometimes, an individual may experience a heat cramp in the abdominal area. These cramps tend to last for a longer time and can be quite severe. Heat cramps typically occur in people who are physically active during hot weather.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

The main symptom of a heat cramp is feeling a sharp and intense pain in the muscles of the legs, arms or the area of the abdomen.

In most cases, the individual will also experience excessive sweating and thirst.

Infants, young children and the elderly are more prone to having heat cramps since their body may not be able to regulate temperature very well.

What are the main causes?

The main cause of heat cramps is dehydration and electrolyte imbalance due to excessive sweating in a hot environment. When there is a loss of electrolytes due to strenuous physical activity, it leads to muscle cramps and results in pain.

Some medical research suggests that when there is intense physical activity and the muscles get excessively tired, they may lose their ability to regulate contractions themselves and lead to cramps.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

The doctor will be able to diagnose heat cramps by enquiring about the symptoms and asking questions about individual activity levels. The doctor may also conduct a physical examination in order to look for signs of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

If an individual experiences a heat cramp, he/she must immediately:

  • Stop performing any physical activity
  • Find a cool place to rest in
  • Take a cool shower
  • Consume ample fluids and oral rehydration salts
  • Massage the sore muscle gently to reduce pain

If the individual is suffering from vomiting or nausea, then the doctor provides intravenous (IV) fluids. To treat the pain, the doctor may prescribe pain-relief medications.


  1. National weather service. Heat Cramps, Exhaustion, Stroke. National Weather Service. [internet].
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness
  3. Alabama Department of Public Health. Heat-Related Illnesses. Alabama, United States. [internet].
  4. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Heat Stress - Heat Related Illness
  5. National Health Portal. Heat-Related Illnesses and Heat waves. Centre for Health Informatics; National Institute of Health and Family Welfare
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