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.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.