Heat cramps and heat exhaustionExercise in or exposure to excessive heat and humidity are elements that can cause heat illness in athletes. Heat illness often occurs when an athlete is not acclimated or properly conditioned. The three most common types of heat illness are heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Below are the differences between the three and the common treatment for each.

Read below to find out more about the different types of heat illnesses, symptoms and how to treat them.

Types of Heat Illnesses

Mild Heat Illness: Heat Cramps

Symptoms of Heat Cramps

  • Muscle spasms
  • Cramping in the legs
  • Cramping in the abdominal area

Treating Heat Cramps

  • Cool athlete with ice packs near large arteries at the armpits, groin, and neck
  • Drink plenty of fluids (water & sports drinks)
  • Apply ice to areas of cramps

Moderate Heat Illness: Heat Exhaustion

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

  • Normal to high body temperature
  • Cool, clammy or pale skin
  • Weakness/fatigue
  • Headaches/dizziness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Nausea

Treatment for Heat Exhaustion

  • Get to a cool place out of the heat
  • Drink plenty of fluids (water & sports drinks)
  • Remove excess clothing
  • Place ice packs near large arteries at the armpits, groin, and neck
  • Call 911 if condition worsens

Severe Heat Illness: Heat Stroke

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • Body temperature above 104º
  • Sweating stops
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Headache/dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Rapid pulse
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Shallow breathing

Treatment for Heat Stroke

  • Call 9-1-1 immediately
  • Get to a cool place out of the heat
  • If conscious, drink plenty of fluids (water and sports drinks)
  • Cool bath and ice packs to large arteries located at the armpits, groin, and neck

Find Personalized Care

The team of physicians, orthopedic surgeons, therapists, and trainers at Memorial Hermann | Rockets Sports Medicine Institute treat a variety of sports injuries, allowing the active patient to return to their desired activity level in a safe, effective, and timely manner.

Contact Us

For more information on the Rockets Sports Medicine Institute orthopedic doctors or surgeons, treatment for injuries, scheduling Human Performance services, or getting more information about physical therapy, please fill out the form below or call us at (713) 222-2273


Thank you for contacting the Memorial Hermann | Rockets Sports Medicine Institute. We have received your inquiry, and a team member will contact you soon.

If you need more immediate assistance, please call us at (713) 222-2273.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.