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Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke

  • Your child's body can react when he is exposed to hot temperatures without drinking lots of fluids and resting.

    • Heat cramps are actually muscle spasms. Have your child rest in shade, drink lots of water slowly and stretch his muscles.
    • Heat exhaustion causes an upset stomach, weak muscles, dizziness and cool or pale skin. Have your child rest in the shade and drink lots of water slowly.
    • Heat stroke is an emergency. This occurs if heat exhaustion is ignored. Heat stroke causes hot and dry skin (no sweating), shallow breathing and a weak pulse. Get your child to a hospital right away. The hotter the temperatures and the higher the humidity, your child is at a higher risk for heat stroke.

    How to prevent heat-related illness

    During the summer, make sure your child:

    • dresses in loose-fitting, cool clothing
    • stays out of direct sunlight as much as possible
    • drinks plenty of water
    • takes breaks often when playing outside
    • stops playing outside when he gets tired
  • Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition. To avoid awkward sentences, instead of referring to your child as "he/she" or "him/her," this guide will alternate between "he" or she" and "him" or "her."
    Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic
    First published: 02/01/2010
    Last reviewed: 01/01/2016