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What is a systemic medical condition?

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A systemic medical condition affects the entire body as opposed to affecting a single part of the body, informs MedlinePlus. Systemic medical conditions include infections, such as influenza and septicemia, as well as metabolic diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

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Systemic blood infections, known as sepsis, are particularly dangerous and can be fatal, warns WebMD. Bacteria or toxins infect the circulating blood, triggering widespread inflammation throughout the body. This type of systemic infection can result in reduced blood flow, organ damage or a life-threatening drop in normal blood pressure, known as septic shock.

Signs of a systemic disease are often evident in changes of the skin, notes Cleveland Clinic. Inflammation of the scalp, face and chest can be associated with systemic medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or human immunodeficiency virus and HIV infection. Often, formation of hard lumps or metastases on the skin indicates a malignant tumor that has metastasized to skin, including cancers of lung, breast and large intestine.

Sometimes, a systemic medical condition shows in the appearance of a person’s fingernails and toenails, according to the American Family Physician medical journal. For instance, clubbed-shaped nails point to pulmonary or inflammatory bowel disease, whereas spoon-shaped nails suggest anemia or hyperthyroidism.

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