What Is Toxemia?
Infectious Diseases Data Verified

Toxemia - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Published on Dec 09, 2022   -  5 min read


Toxemia is the presence of toxins in the blood due to a bacterial infection. Read the article below to learn more about toxemia.


Bacteria may enter the blood through the skin, lungs, kidneys, and bladder, causing an infection in the body - this is referred to as septicemia. These bacteria produce various exotoxins to have symptoms within the body. The bacteria and the toxins in the bloodstream can be carried throughout the body. If the infection is left untreated, it may lead to severe inflammation and sepsis.

What Is Toxemia?

Toxemia is the presence of toxins within the blood due to a bacterial infection. Bacteria produce two types of toxins: exotoxins and endotoxins. Exotoxins are produced by both: gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Exotoxins are toxins that the bacteria produce in reaction to the host body and cause damage to the host by killing cells or disrupting normal cellular metabolism.

Endotoxins are present within the cell wall of gram-positive bacteria and are released into the body after the lysis of the bacteria due to antibiotic treatment. This is the reason for the worsening of symptoms during the recovery phase.

What Causes Toxemia?

The cause of toxemia would be the entry of bacteria into the bloodstream, which releases toxins. The presence of bacteria in the bloodstream is called septicemia or bacteremia.

Bacteria may enter the body in several ways, including vigorous brushing of teeth or even tiny cuts or scratches on the skin.

The common causes for the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream include:

Who Is at Risk of Toxemia?

Although everyone with an infection can have toxemia, few people are at a higher risk of infections and the resultant toxemia.

  • People with weak immunity, such as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and cancer.

  • People in their old age; 65 years or older.

  • Young children, especially below the age of one year.

  • People who use catheters.

  • People with poor oral hygiene.

  • People who had undergone recent surgery.

  • People with chronic medical conditions like kidney disease, lung diseases, diabetes, etc.

  • People who have a history of septicemia.

  • People who work in hospitals and other areas have higher exposure to bacteria.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Toxemia?

The early signs and symptoms of toxemia include:

  • Fever.

  • Chills.

  • Sweating.

  • Rapid breathing.

  • Weakness.

  • Low blood pressure.

  • Pale skin, especially on the face.

  • Increased heart rate.

  • Irritability.

Severe symptoms may occur if the infection progresses within the body:

  • Confusion.

  • Shock.

  • Reduced to no urine production.

  • Extreme pain or discomfort.

  • Profuse sweating.

  • Red dots on the skin.

  • Inadequate blood flow.

How Is Toxemia Diagnosed?

Self-diagnosing toxemia would be difficult as the symptoms could resemble other conditions. Instead, the healthcare professional would check the symptoms and perform a physical exam, including the body temperature and blood pressure.

Other tests to check for toxemia in the blood include:

  • Blood culture test.

  • Blood count, especially white blood cell count, to check the presence of an infection.

  • Clotting factor.

  • Urine tests.

  • Kidney function test.

  • Electrolyte test.

  • Chest X-ray.

  • A wound swab or the liquid from a wound is checked for bacteria.

To check for infections within body organs, the doctor may advise a few imaging tests:

  • X-ray.

  • CT (computer tomography) scan.

  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

How Is Toxemia Treated?

Immediate treatment of toxemia is vital to prevent the spread of the infection and the toxin to other parts of the body and sepsis. Treatment includes treating the infection and providing supportive care. The patient is usually hospitalized in the intensive care unit to monitor the conditions. The patient may be advised with oral or intravenous antibiotics to mitigate the infection. The duration of antibiotic therapy would depend on the type and severity of the infection.

In some cases, treatment options would include surgery:

  • Incision and drainage of an abscess.

  • Appendicitis.

  • Perforated bowel syndrome.

Other supportive care may include intravenous fluids for hydration and intubation.

What Are the Complications of Toxemia?

Toxemia is a serious condition and requires immediate treatment. However, if left untreated, it may lead to sepsis. Sepsis is a dangerous and life-threatening condition. Symptoms of sepsis include blue or pale skin, lips or tongue, difficulty breathing, confusion and slurred speech, and a rash. Sepsis can cause major complications like kidney failure, tissue damage and necrosis, and damage to the lung, brain, and heart. In a few proportions of people, it may even lead to death. If sepsis goes untreated, it may even lead to septic shock syndrome. Septic shock syndrome is a severe condition with a sudden drop in blood pressure and organ failure.

How Can Toxemia Be Prevented?

Prevention of toxemia is by preventing infection. The bacteria that enter the body produce toxins that result in toxemia.

  • Do not open wounds in the environment. Keep them clean and apply antiseptic medications provided by the doctor.

  • Be up-to-date on all immunization vaccines, especially flu and pneumonia vaccines.

  • Maintain good oral hygiene.

  • Consult a dentist in case of any infection in the gums of the teeth.

  • Consult a doctor in case of a sinus or ear infection.

  • Doctors usually provide antibiotics following surgery to prevent infection; take the medication properly.

  • Wash hands regularly with soap or use an alcohol-based sanitizer.

  • Take appropriate treatment for chronic medical conditions.


Toxemia is a serious condition with symptoms like fever, chill, rapid breathing, low blood pressure, and heart rate. It is caused due to any bacterial infection; the bacteria that enters the body produces toxins in reaction to the host. It is more likely to affect young children, older adults over 65, immunocompromised people, and people with chronic medical conditions. The complications of toxemia include sepsis and septic shock, which are life-threatening conditions. Many people have had a complete recovery from toxemia. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help reduce the spread and further complications of the disease. Once a person has had toxemia, they are at risk of developing infections in the future. The condition can be prevented by consulting a doctor immediately; if there are any signs of infection and by taking appropriate medication and treatment as suggested by the doctor.

Last reviewed at:
09 Dec 2022  -  5 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

Naturopathy and Its Ten Principles

Article Overview: Naturopathy is a form of alternative medicine that offers a drug-less treatment. It works on some important principles. Continue reading to know more. Read Article

Vishvendra Singh
Vishvendra Singh

What Is Naturopathic Medicine? Naturopathic medicine is healthcare that uses the benefits of nature to cure diseases. A naturopathic doctor treats a patient considering regaining or retaining overall well-being. They treat patients of all age groups and gender. The practitioner will take a complete ...  Read Article

Anesthetic Considerations in Urologic Surgery

Article Overview: Anesthesia for urologic surgery demands specialized expertise and transactions due to the many techniques and patient placements employed in the procedure. Read Article

Madhav Tiwari
Madhav Tiwari
General Surgery

Introduction: The majority of urologic procedures are carried out using a cystoscope. In order to maximize surgical results, anesthesiologists should take into account a variety of criteria in addition to providing proper anesthetics, such as age, comorbidities, functional status, duration of operat...  Read Article

Sacrococcygeal Teratoma - Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Article Overview: A sacrococcygeal teratoma is a tumor that develops on the tailbone of the fetus. Though not cancerous, they can be life-threatening if not promptly treated. Read Article

Introduction: Sacrococcygeal teratoma is a rare tumor that develops at the tailbone (coccyx) of the fetus. It occurs in one out of every 40,000 live births. The tumor develops from the cells of the reproductive system. The cells of the reproductive system grow abnormally, giving rise to the tumor. M...  Read Article

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Toxemia or ?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.