What Are Heat Cramps & What Are The Warning Signs? – First Aid

How To Treat Heat Cramps With Basic First Aid

If you’ve been riding for a while, then there’s a good chance you’ve already experienced heat cramps at some point in your riding career. They’re a fairly common occurrence for riders, especially those that tend to ride in hotter climates.

What Are Heat Cramps & What Are The Warning Signs? - First AidThankfully, heat cramps aren’t too severe of a concern. But that doesn’t mean they should be taken lightly. Often, left untreated, they turn into a more serious condition*.

So it’s a good idea to know what to do when heat cramps occur. This article will give you a simple action plan for doing so.

What Are They?

Heat cramps are very painful muscle spasms that occur as a result of intense activity in high temperatures. This activity could be exercising, playing football, or, in your case, riding a dirt bike. They’re the least serious of the three heat-related illnesses – heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.

Rider First Aid Heat Cramps crashing

Heat cramps tend to be more prolonged and more intense than typical cramps. While they can include just about any muscle group, the most common groups affected by heat cramps are located in the arm, calf, abdominal, and back regions.

What Causes Heat Cramps?

Internally, they are believed to be the result of excessive water and sodium loss in muscles, brought on by intense sweating. So it makes sense that dehydration is one of the biggest contributing factors.

Externally, the dominant cause for heat cramps is prolonged intense and excessive activity in hot and humid environments. In other words, riding a dirt bike for a long time when it’s hot and humid outside.

What Are The Symptoms?

There are a few vital distinct signs and symptoms that hint to a person suffering from heat cramps. Once you see these symptoms, it’s imperative to treat it as fast as possible, so the cramps don’t turn into exhaustion or, worse, heatstroke.

  • Profuse sweating
  • Involuntary muscle spasms
  • Mild to intense pain in muscles

Other Heat Cramp Symptoms May Include

  • A headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness

If any of the above symptoms are observed, this is a sign that the cramps have already graduated to a more serious stage – exhaustion or stroke. As such, you should treat the person accordingly.

How To Treat Heat Cramps Without A First Aid Kit

If the heat cramps have not graduated to a more severe condition, here are the proper first aid steps needed to treat them:

  1. Rest and cool down. Find a shaded area or get indoors. Stop any activity, sit down, and rest.
  1. Drink water or a sports drink. Anything that is not a sugary juice. The body needs hydration and electrolytes. Water and/or a sports drink will give you what you need.
  1. Gently stretch and massage the affected muscles. Massaging and stretching can help speed up recovery. But don’t be too aggressive.
  1. Call it a day. Even when the cramps are gone don’t continue to ride. There’s a good chance they’ll come back when you resume riding. Or worse, they may eventually turn into heatstroke. Get off the bike, go home, and rest.
  1. Seek medical attention IF the heat cramps don’t go away within an hour.

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Keep Reading – How to Treat Heat Stroke

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