Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are muscle contractions, usually in the hamstring muscles (the muscles at the back of the calves). These contraction are forceful and painful.

Over exertion in sports, hiking, pushing a mower and other such activities, dehydration and poor conditioning are usually the cause of heat cramps.

They usually improve with rest, following the 3 Rules of Summer, and a cool environment.








Heat Exhaustion

Although partly due to exhaustion -- and feeling like exhaustion, as the name implies -- heat exhaustion is also a result of excessive heat and dehydration.

The signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Paleness, with cold sweat on the forehead

  • The whole body may feel cool and clammy from perspiration

  • Shallow breathing

  • Headache and dizziness

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Fainting

  • Dilated pupils

  • And possibly a moderately increased temperature (101-104 degrees F) which, in this case, is not a fever, but caused by the body's inability to cool itself


Move the victim to a cool shady spot.  Place them on their backs and raise their feet.  Loosen all tight fitting clothing, fan them and apply cool, wet cloths.  Give them as much water as they can hold down without vomiting.

More severely exhausted patients may need IV fluids, especially if vomiting keeps them from drinking enough, in which case this person needs immediate medical attention.






Heat Stroke


Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat illness. It can occur even in people who are not exercising, if the weather is hot enough. These people have warm, flushed skin, and do not sweat. Athletes who have heat stroke after vigorous exercise in hot weather may still be sweating considerably.


Whether exercise-related or not though, a person with heat stroke usually has a very high temperature (106 degrees F or higher), and may be delirious, unconscious, or having seizures.


If anyone you are with has these symptoms, stop right here and call your doctor or EMS. Heat stroke is a medical emergency!


Slow reaction to applying first aid in these cases will lead to the person's death very quickly.


These patients need to have their temperature reduced quickly, often with ice packs or cool water baths and must also be given IV fluids for rehydration.


They must be taken to the hospital as quickly as possible and may have to stay in the hospital for observation since many different body organs can fail in heat stroke.




Exposure to heat makes the body work to keep itself cool, but sometimes the body's cooling system becomes strained, resulting in a heatCommon sense will protect

injury of some type.  Extreme body overheating can lead to death.


heat problems. 

The 3 Rules of Summer, which  are:

  • Drink plenty of water.

  • Drink plenty of water.

  • Drink plenty of water.

The following are the three different types of heat injuries from minor heat cramps to major heat stroke.












Summer Heat Injuries


Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses

It is possible to prevent heat-related illnesses. The important thing is to stay well-hydrated, to make sure that your body can get rid of extra heat, and to be sensible about exertion in hot, humid weather.

Your sweat is your body's main system for getting rid of extra heat. When you sweat and the water evaporates from your skin, the heat that evaporates the sweat comes mainly from your skin. As long as blood is flowing properly to your skin, extra heat from the core of your body is "pumped" to the skin and removed by sweat evaporation. If you do not sweat enough, you cannot get rid of extra heat well, and you also can't get rid of heat as well if blood is not flowing to the skin.


Dehydration will make it harder for you to cool off in two ways: if you are dehydrated you won't sweat as much, and your body will try to keep blood away from the skin to keep your blood pressure at the right level in the core of your body. But, since you lose water when you sweat, you must make up that water to keep from becoming dehydrated. If the air is humid, it's harder for your sweat to evaporate -- this means that your body cannot get rid of extra heat as well when it's muggy as it can when it's relatively dry.


The best fluid to drink when you are sweating is water. Although there is a little salt in your sweat, you don't really lose that much salt with your sweat, except in special circumstances; taking salt tablets is not recommended.  "Sport drinks" such as Gatorade® are fine, too, but water is still the best medicine.


It's also important to be sensible about how much you exert yourself in hot weather. The hotter and more humid it is, the harder it will be for you to get rid of excess heat. The clothing you wear makes a difference, too: the less clothing you have on, and the lighter that clothing is, the easier you can cool off.