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Heat Cramps (cont.)

Heat Cramps Causes

The exact cause of heat cramps is unknown, but it is most likely related to electrolyte deficiencies. Various essential minerals, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, are known as electrolytes. They are important for many body functions, and an electrolyte imbalance can cause medical problems.

Sweat contains a large amount of sodium, and drinking fluids with inadequate sodium content after sweating profusely may result in a serious low-sodium condition called hyponatremia.

Those at most risk for heat cramps are:

  • Infants and young children
  • The elderly
  • Individuals who live by themselves or who cannot afford air conditioning in hot environments
  • Those who consume alcohol
  • Individuals who work or exercise in a hot environment
  • Those taking certain prescription medications. Some medications can impair the body's sweat and heat regulation (for example, psychiatric drugs, tranquilizers, OTC cold medications, and antihistamines).
  • People who abuse the drug Ecstasy.

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Heatstroke »

Heat illness may be viewed as a continuum of illnesses relating to the body's inability to cope with heat.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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