Systemic means "affecting the entire body," rather than a single organ or body part.
For example, systemic disorders such as high blood pressure or systemic diseases such as influenza affect the entire body.
An infection that is in the bloodstream is called a systemic infection. An infection that affects only one body part or organ is called a localized infection.
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, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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