Blastocystis hominis is a single-celled, microscopic intestinal parasite. Whether blastocystis causes illness in people is controversial. The organism is found in both healthy people and those who experience gastrointestinal symptoms. In addition to humans, blastocystis lives in a variety of animals, including amphibians, mammals, and birds. Geographically, the parasite persists in countries all over the world, though developing countries report a higher incidence rate. Some research suggests specific types of blastocystis are more likely to cause symptoms.
Those who experience symptoms from a blastocystis infection may develop gastrointestinal symptoms such as watery diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, bloating, and excessive gas. Some people also report weight loss, constipation, and anal itching. In some cases, however, even people with blastocystis in their stool may be experiencing symptoms caused by another condition.
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