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First Aid for Heat Cramps

Last updated March 5, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD MPH

Jon Candy

Heat Cramps are involuntary muscle spasms, caused by excessive physical activity in hot conditions. These spasms are painful and are usually observed, intermittently.


What is Heat Cramps?

  • Heat Cramps are involuntary muscle spasms, caused by excessive physical activity in hot conditions. These spasms are painful and are usually observed, intermittently
  • In many cases, cooler temperatures, adequate rest, and replenishment of lost body fluids is sufficient treatment

What are the Causes of Heat Cramps?

Heat Cramps may be caused by:

  • Exercise or physical activity under hot conditions
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive alcohol and/or caffeine intake, prior to any physical activity

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Heat Cramps?

Signs and symptoms of Heat Cramps may include:

  • Intermittent cramping pain, which may involve any muscle group within the body. But, usually those muscles that have been stressed the most during the physical activities, are affected
  • Excessive sweating
  • Symptoms may appear hours after physical activity

How is First Aid administered for Heat Cramps?

First Aid tips for Heat Cramps include:

  • Move away from the sun or heat, to a cooler area (or under the shade)
  • Rest
  • Replenish lost fluid and electrolytes, by drinking juice or any ‘sports-drink’ that contain electrolytes
  • DO NOT take any alcoholic beverages, or drinks containing caffeine (like coffee)
  • Gently stretch the cramping muscle
  • Do not resume any activity that can stress the affected muscle group for several hours, after the cramps
  • Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen

Who should administer First Aid for Heat Cramps?

The individual with the Heat Cramps or someone near the affected person may administer First Aid.

What is the Prognosis of Heat Cramps?

The prognosis is usually good. However, if appropriate measures are not taken, the condition may lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

How can Heat Cramps be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Heat Cramps:

  • Hydration
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine on hot days
  • Avoid outdoor exercising or performing strenuous activities on hot days

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Adequate hydration prior to physical activity
  • Avoid strenuous activities in hot conditions
  • Replenish fluids and electrolytes
  • Children need to be dressed appropriately, for outdoor activities

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Nov. 26, 2013
Last updated: March 5, 2018