How does one deal with heat cramps? Beginning a new column on how to handle common medical emergencies.
How to recognise?
Muscle spasms are the only sign of heat cramps. The main symptoms are:
Involuntary and intermittent muscle spasms.
These symptoms usually resolve on their own.
Who are at risk?
Athletes, elderly people and infants and those who consume alcohol after vigorous activity.
Move the person to a cool, shady area and let him rest.
Stretch and massage the affected muscles gently.
Give the person lemonade or water to drink, preferably with a pinch of salt.
Seek medical advice if it continues.
Do not allow the person to continue strenuous exercise.
How can heat cramps be prevented?
Prevention is the best treatment. If possible , try to avoid working or exercising in the sun but, if has to be done, get acclimatised first.
Drink plenty of fluids and if the activity lasts for a prolonged period, consider using sports or balanced electrolyte drinks. This is particularly important if significant sweating occurs and electrolytes are lost through sweat.
Try to rest in cool or shady areas whenever possible.
Extract from Medical Emergency Handbook, Vikas Tripathi, pub VIVO Healthcare, Rs.199.
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