Greenville, S.C. (WSPA)– Summer is here and the hotter temperatures can impact your health.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, 7News Anchor Taylor Murray spoke with an emergency medicine physician about keeping the body cool.

A little over a week into summer and already a massive heatwave is impacting much of the United States.

The forecast is not cooling off just yet, which means you need to protect yourself from heat-related illnesses.

“It is a spectrum of different illnesses, to include something as simple as what we call heat cramps to the other end of the spectrum to what we would call the heat stroke.”

Dr. Ryan Brown, Emergency Medicine Physician

Dr. Ryan Brown, an emergency medicine physician, says heat cramps are muscle spasms that result from the loss of water and salt in hot weather.

Heat exhaustion involves a headache, sometimes vomiting, and even a low-grade fever.

Heat stroke is the most severe and dangerous heat-related illness.

“The worst end of that spectrum is that it turns into something like a seizure or a coma,” Dr. Brown said.

Hot weather is especially threatening to vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children, pregnant women, and those with chronic conditions.

“Definitely the stress of temperature changes, for a long time, on people who have chronic health conditions– they are more susceptible to having bad outcomes than others,” Dr. Brown said.

Dr. Brown says you can protect yourself from the heat by staying hydrated.

“I typically say for most people, and you know most athletes, for every 15 minutes of a complete exercise in the heat or not, you probably need about one cup of water, which is about you half a bottle of water,” Dr. Brown said.

Take breaks and limit your time in direct sunlight.

Also, make sure to protect your skin by wearing sunscreen.

“I guess it just becomes a best practice thing to get used to this. Doing it as a daily thing… not just to prevent something as simple as maybe a sunburn, but, as I said, sunburns can turn into skin infections. At the worst end of the spectrum, prolonged exposure to your skin can turn into things like skin cancers,” Dr. Brown said.

If you are on any medications, Dr. Brown says you should talk with your physician or pharmacist about the effects hot weather can have on it.

“Whether it be something as simple as just you take diuretics, if you’re going to be outside you’re more likely to get dehydrated than someone else,” Dr. Brown said.

Dr. Brown says medications used to treat high blood pressure can affect your body’s ability to sweat and regulate heat.

If you or someone around you is displaying symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke– seek immediate medical attention. If you are able, get to a cool place.

To submit a health topic for our Ask the Expert series, click here.