Heat cramps are acute involuntary muscle pains, usually in the lower extremities, the abdomen, or both, that occur because of profuse sweating and subsequent losses in sweat. Heat cramps usually starts suddenly during strenuous and prolonged physical activity. They may be mild, characterized by only slight abdominal cramping and tingling in the extremities. More often, however, they present with severe incapacitating pain in the extremities and abdomen. The patient may become hypotensive and nauseated but remains alert. The pulse is generally rapid, the skin pale and moist, and the temperature normal.
How to manage heat cramps
- Remove the patient from the hot environment, including sunlight, a source of radiant heat gain, loosen any tight clothing.
- Administer high flow oxygen.
- Rest the cramping muscles, have the patient sit or lie down until the cramps subside
- Replace fluid by mouth. Use water or a diluted balanced electrolyte solution. In most cases, plain water is most useful. Do not give salt tablets or solutions that have a high salt concentration. The patient already has an adequate amount of electrolytes circulating; they are just not disturbed properly; with adequate rest and fluid replacement, the body will adjust the distribution of electrolytes, and the cramps will disappear.
- Cool the patient with cool water spray or mist and add convection to the cooling method by manually or mechanically fanning the patient.
- When the heat cramps gone patient may resume the activity; however heavy sweating may cause the cramp to reccur. The best preventive and treatment method Is adequate hydration by drinking sufficient quantities of water.
Heat exhaustion is the inadequacy or the collapse of peripheral circulation caused by volume and electrolyte depletion. Untreated heat exhaustion may progress to heat stroke.
Assessment of heat exhaustion
- Symptoms include headache, fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramping, and nausea.
- Skin is usually pale, ashen, and moist
- Hypotension, orthostatic changes
- Tachycardia, tachypnea
- Temperature may be normal, slightly elevated, or as high as 104 degree F. (40 degree C)
Management of heat exhaustion
Early detection and prompt management are essential, the latter consisting of letting the patient rest in a recumbent posture in a cool room and providing for replacement of water and electrolytes. The osmolarity or specific gravity of the urine should be monitored , as should urea, sodium and chloride levels in the plasma, and body temperature, body weight, and water and salt intake should also be recorded. If the condition is adequately treated, victims generally feel well within a few hours and recover without squeal. If not, it may readily proceed to heat stroke.
Heatstroke, also called sunstroke, is a reaction to exposure to the sun which often begins with headache, dizziness, and fatigue leading to heat, flushing, and dryness of the skin. Perspiration is usually, but not always, decreased. The pulse rate increases quickly, sometimes up to 180 beats per minute, and breathing rate often increases also. The person can become disoriented and unconscious, as well as having seizures. Body temperature can shoot up very quickly to 104 degree F or even 106 degree F.
Complication of heat stroke
In heat stroke, collapse of the heart can lead to permanent brain damage or death. Heat exhaustion is usually temporary and rarely has complications. If the body temperature is rising rapidly and the person has the symptoms of heat stroke, a person should seek emergency medical care.
- Rapid cooling-remove clothing, wet patient down, apply ice packs
- Fluid and electrolyte replacement with hypotonic oral fluids or iv 0.5-1.0 litre normal saline.
- Consider central venous pressure monitoring.
- Body immersion in iced water
- Evaporative cooling: spraying water over the patient and facilitating evaporation and convection.
- Immersing the hands and forearms in cold water
- Use of ice or cold packs in the neck, groin, and axillae.
Diet management in case of heat stroke
- Cool or cold clear liquids only
- Avoid caffeine
- Unrestricted sodium
- Rest with elevated legs
Homeopathic treatment of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke
Aconite, Belladonna, Lachesis, Veratrum Album, Glonine, Gelsemium, Natrum Mur, Antim C, Natrum Carb, Opium, Thuja, Veratrum V, Camphor, Cactus, Rhus Tox and many other medicines.