toxemia

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toxemia

(tŏksē`mēə), disease state caused by the presence in the blood of bacterial toxinstoxin,
poison produced by living organisms. Toxins are classified as either exotoxins or endotoxins. Exotoxins are a diverse group of soluble proteins released into the surrounding tissue by living bacterial cells. Exotoxins have specific reaction sites in the host; e.g.
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 or other harmful substances. The effects of the bacterial toxins known as endotoxins are relatively uniform, regardless of which bacterial species the toxin comes from, and are separate from the effects caused by the infecting bacterium itself. A small amount of endotoxin (released by dead bacteria) produces one or more fever episodes, thought to be caused by release of a fever-inducing substance from damaged white blood cells. Large quantities of endotoxin cause shock and death. Exotoxins are proteins released by bacteria that have specific effects on target tissues, e.g., botulinus toxin affects the nervous system. See also septicemiasepticemia
, invasion of the bloodstream by virulent bacteria that multiply and discharge their toxic products. The disorder, which is serious and sometimes fatal, is commonly known as blood poisoning.
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The term toxemia is also used for a disorder occurring during the latter half of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, the appearance of protein in the urine, and edema. If not treated it can result in convulsions and coma. The cause of toxemia of pregnancy has not been established with certainty. See also eclampsiaeclampsia
, term applied to toxic complications that can occur late in pregnancy. Toxemia of pregnancy occurs in 10% to 20% of pregnant women; symptoms include headache, vertigo, visual disturbances, vomiting, hypertension, and edema.
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toxemia

[täk′sē·mē·ə]
(medicine)
A condition in which the blood contains toxic substances, either of microbial origin or as by-products of abnormal protein metabolism.

toxaemia

(US), toxemia
1. a condition characterized by the presence of bacterial toxins in the blood
2. the condition in pregnancy of pre-eclampsia or eclampsia