Covid-19: All you need to know about black fungus and how to prevent its occurrence-Dr. Anchal Gupta
Mucormycosis or black fungus is a serious complication seen in covid-19 patients. It is best to see a doctor, before things go out of hand. Here’s all you need to know.
The second wave of covid-19 is full of shock value, or that’s what we believe. Unlike the last wave, this time around, there are some pronounced complications observed in infected patients, and that’s what’s leaving the world even more worried. But as always, we believe being informed is the key to preventing further issues. That’s exactly why we are here to speak about mucormycosis or black fungus, a rare complication that is wreaking havoc in those who have covid-19.
Before we get down to the details, let’s first understand what this infection really is. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), mucormycosis is a fungal infection that mainly affects people who are on
medication for other health problems that reduce their ability to fight environmental pathogens.
Dr Anchal Gupta, senior eye surgeon explains it to us. “Mucormycosis is a ubiquitous fungus, present everywhere in soil and air. It does not affect healthy individuals, only immune-suppressed individuals.
What are some of the symptoms of black fungus?
It is marked by pain and redness around eyes or nose, fever, headaches, coughing, shortness of breath, vomiting in blood, and altered mental status. Some of the factors that may lead to black fungus infection include uncontrolled diabetes, immunosuppression by steroids, prolonged stay in the hospital, comorbidities, as well as voriconazole therapy.
In diabetic patients who have covid-19 or those who are on immunosuppressed medications, black fungus presents itself in the form of sinusitis, blackish discolouration over the bridge of the palate or nose, one-sided facial pain, blurred vision, toothache, chest pain and respiratory problems.
Why is there sudden spurt in its occurrence?
Dr Gupta has an answer. “Increasing number of potentially serious covid patients in the second wave with inadvertent use of high doses steroids for longer periods is the biggest reason. Plus, more patients needing oxygenation for a longer time, not maintaining proper hygiene and sanitation of oxygen delivery pipes has led to its spike. In certain cases, industrial oxygen is being used, due to paucity, which is not as sterile as medical grade oxygen. Last but not the least, warm humid weather conditions are more favourable for fungal growth.”
Is surgery the only solution to eliminate it?
“The fungus is extremely ferocious and every hour counts. In one to three days, the fungus can corrode from the nasal sinuses to the eye and ultimately to the brain, leading to death. Early surgery to debride and debulk the fungus invasion is the only option, once it has entered the sinuses. Very high doses of antifungal injection amphotericin B are also needed,” says Dr. Anchal Gupta.