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Toxin

Toxin

A toxin is a poison made by living cells or organisms. Toxins can cause health problems on contact or when they are absorbed by the body.

The severity of a reaction to a toxin varies greatly. A bee sting causes a minor reaction in most people. But eating food containing botulinum toxin can cause a deadly reaction. Usually, the severity of the health problem caused by a toxin depends on:

  • How often a person is exposed to the toxin.
  • How much toxin was in contact with or absorbed by the body.
  • How poisonous the toxin is.

Treatment can be as simple as staying away from the toxin and limiting future exposure. In some cases, treatment with substances, such as anti-venom, can prevent serious illness.

Fortunately, the levels of most toxins in the environment are low.

Last Revised: September 23, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Peter Rabinowitz, MD, MPH - Occupational and Environmental Medicine

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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