Black fungus and Covid-19 – Do I need to worry

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Black Fungus
Mucormycosis or ‘Black Fungus’ is a very rare infection. The pathogen is mostly present in the soil, manure, or rotten fruits and vegetables. It can be present in the mucus of a healthy person too. However, under normal circumstances our body is competent enough to fight it out. Having a mortality rate of more than 50% once infected it is important to undergo the treatment immediately.

Black Fungus

What is fungus?
Fungus pathogen is more related to plants than the animal kingdom. About 300 such pathogens are known to affect animals including humans. Mycologists have sure treatments for fungus if deducted early. However, once we have a fungal infection in any part and we leave it untreated, it not only spreads from the first point where it establishes the foothold in the body but also eats away the part whether it is skin, bone, or cartilages.

Is Coronavirus causing Black Fungus?
A person’s recent bout with Covid-19 where probably symptoms were severe, several steroids and immunomodulators were used. This amounts to lowering down the guard for other pathogens. During our fight with Coronavirus, our immune system goes overdrive to fight the virus. This results in increasing the blood sugar levels not only in diabetics but also in fit individuals.
We all know that diabetes lowers our immune response. However, we manage it during our normal days. During Coronavirus we use certain steroids and drugs which increases our blood sugar level and further increases diabetes adding fuel to the fire. The result is suppressed immune system. Thus our body no longer has the capability of fighting with other pathogens, which take advantage of our suppressed or modified immune system.

How will I know I have Black Fungus?
The infection causes the blackening of the nose, blur vision, pain in the chest, breathing difficulties, or even cough with chest pain. Redness in the eyes or itching, nose blockage, one side headache, pain in gums or teeth or even loss of a tooth can also be the initial symptom. It is important to understand that people already suffering from diabetes and those who have used steroids during their treatment of Coronavirus are more susceptible to this. One also needs to understand that our immune system doesn’t become normal immediately after recovery. It takes time to reset. It is this period when this fungal pathogen gains the foothold and starts spreading. Generally, it has affected patients after 10 to 15 days of recovery.

What if I feel I may have the infection?
It is the timing that matters in the treatment of the infection. The earlier we start the treatment, the faster and safer will be the outcome. However, as seen patients get confused with the recovery after coronavirus and hence report very late. By then it becomes important to remove the part by surgery. Hence patient may lose an eye or portion of the jaw. Under normal circumstances, the treatment is simple and already exists. One needs to do a course of anti-fungal medicines for a period varying from two weeks to eight weeks as prescribed by the doctors.

What are the causes?
One of the major causes of this infection in the recent past has been linked with self-medication or taking too many steroids to fight coronavirus. Other causes such as using unhygienic tubes or medical apparatus may also cause this infection. During the recent oxygen crisis, we were forced to buy oxygen from any source. This spurious oxygen can contribute to getting this infection.

So what should I do?
There are not many cases of ‘Mucormycosis’ or ‘Black Fungus’, however, it can be found to be linked with coronavirus treatment in most diabetic patients. Hence be sure to stay hygienic and look out for the symptoms. It is important to catch it early. A suitable recovery plan after coronavirus such as steam inhalation, pranayama, healthy warm food, controlled blood sugar and limited exercise is strongly recommended. One need not worry as information is power. So if one knows about the infection, it can be caught early and treated safely.

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