Our bodies, which create a tremendous amount of internal heat, are normally cooled through sweating and radiating heat through our skin. Under certain circumstances, such as unusually high temperatures, high humidity, or vigorous exercise in hot weather, this natural cooling system may begin to fail, allowing internal heat to build up to dangerous levels. The result may be heat illness, which can result in heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heatstroke.
Heat cramps are brief, severe cramps in the muscles of the legs, arms, or abdomen that may occur during or after vigorous exercise in extreme heat. The sweating that occurs with vigorous exercise causes the body to lose salts and fluids. And the low level of salts causes the muscles to cramp.
Kids are particularly susceptible to heat cramps when they haven't been drinking enough fluids. Although painful, heat cramps aren't serious.
What to Do:
Most heat cramps don't require special treatment. A cool place, rest, and fluids should ease a child's discomfort. Massaging cramped muscles may also help.
Heat exhaustion is a more severe heat illness that can occur when someone in a hot climate or environment hasn't been drinking enough fluids. Symptoms may include:
nausea and/or vomiting
hyperventilation (rapid breathing)