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Definition

Toxins are substances created by plants and animals that are poisonous (toxic) to humans. Toxins may also include some medicines that are helpful in small doses, but poisonous in large amounts.

Most toxins that cause problems in humans come from germs such as bacteria. For example, the symptoms of cholera are caused by a toxin made by cholera bacteria.

Other toxins that cause problems include metals, such as lead, and certain chemicals in the environment.

Gallery

Bacteria
Bacterial infections can lead to the formation of pus, or to the spread of the bacteria in the blood.

References

Lee WM. Toxin- and drug-induced liver disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 141.

Meehan TJ. Approach to the poisoned patient. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 139.

Last reviewed April 24, 2021 by David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team..

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