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Blastocystis hominis

  • Overview


    A microscopic parasite called Blastocystis can reside in your digestive tract. Researchers are trying to determine if Blastocystis causes any diseases. Some people with gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and abdominal pain have Blastocystis in their stool. However, Blastocystis usually exists in a person’s digestive tract without causing any harm.

    Blastocystis can be transmitted through food, water, or contact with feces from humans or animals. It is more common in developing countries and among those who work with animals.

    Previously, Blastocystis in humans was identified as a single species, Blastocystis hominis. Researchers have since discovered various variations, including different species or strains within a species. The current scientific name for Blastocystis is Blastocystis spp, which means “multiple species.” Blastocystosis is the term used to describe a Blastocystis infection.

  • Symptoms


    Symptoms of blastocystis may include watery diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, bloating, excessive gas, loss of appetite, weight loss, anal itching, and fatigue.

  • When to see a doctor


    It is advised to schedule an appointment with your doctor if you experience any signs and symptoms, such as diarrhea or abdominal pain, that persist for more than three days.

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  • Causes


    There is a tiny organism called Blastocystis, which is a single-celled protozoan. While most parasitic protozoans in your digestive tract are harmless or beneficial, some can cause illness.

    It’s unclear whether Blastocystis is responsible for causing disease. Although many people carry the organism without symptoms, it’s also present in those with diarrhea and other digestive issues.

    There are several reasons for this variability, such as different types of Blastocystis that may have varying disease-causing potential, some individuals being more susceptible to infection, or other organisms that may coexist with Blastocystis causing the illness.

    Blastocystis can be transmitted from person to person or from animals to humans. Possible modes of transmission include contaminated food or water and exposure to human or animal feces.

  • Risk factors


    You may be at higher risk of Blastocystis exposure if you work with animals, are exposed to human feces, or travel to a country with poor water sanitation.

  • Prevention


    It is essential to practice good hygiene to prevent blastocystis infection. This includes washing fruits and vegetables before eating them, keeping cooking surfaces clean, and frequently washing your hands. Be sure to use soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and if soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol. Remember to wash your hands before, during, and after meal preparation, after using the toilet, after changing a diaper or helping a child use the restroom, after helping a sick person, after touching animals or animal food or feces, after handling garbage, and before and after cleaning a cut or wound.

    When travelling, it is essential to take precautions to lower your risk of exposure to blastocystis. Avoid eating food from street vendors, unpasteurised dairy products, raw or undercooked meat, fish, shellfish, or eggs, food at room temperature, fresh greens, foods that can’t be peeled, such as berries, and dishes or condiments made with uncooked fruits or vegetables. Additionally, it is essential to avoid unsterilised water from the tap, well, or stream. If you must use unsterilised water for drinking or washing food items, boil it for at least three minutes and let it cool. You can also use a chemical cleaner for water, often available at a sporting goods store. Avoid ice cubes or beverages made with tap water, keep your mouth closed while showering, use bottled water to brush your teeth, ensure hot beverages are steaming hot, and only drink bottled beverages from original, unopened containers after cleaning them.

  • *Please note that the information provided in the article is for reference purposes only. It is essential to consult a doctor before applying any of the suggestions mentioned.

Content Details

Medical info from Mayo Clinic, for reference only. Visit Hoan My for better advice.

Last updated on: 14/08/2023