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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.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Current as of October 8, 2013

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 08, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.