Black fungus usually occurs to COVID-19 patients either during the hospital stay or can even occur when they start their recovery journey. Mucormycosis, which is also known as Black fungus is a serious but rare medical condition where the disease manifests itself on the skin of the patient wherein it can affect the lungs and even the brain.
Today, while India is battling the pandemic, black fungus cases have been reported in Indian states, Maharashtra, Delhi, and Gujarat. As of now, more than 9000 fungal infection cases have been reported. The reason why it’s occurring in COVID-19 patients is that they have a weak immune system. This disease is generally contracted by patients who not only have a weak immune system but also suffer from underlying conditions, such as diabetes and usage of steroids.
What is Black Fungus?
Aforementioned, black fungus (Mucormycosis) is a rare condition, which surfaced only recently in large numbers as COVID-19 patients contracted the same. The disease is caused by a group of moulds known as mucormycetes that is present in our environment. Black fungus has a high mortality rate and must be taken seriously. This generally occurs in people who are suffering from health conditions and suffer from a weak immune system.
The black fungus can cause blindness, and permanent disfiguration and even death. Not many know a lot about black fungus as it is rare. Now, let’s take an example. Have you seen bread mould? It grows faster when it is moist. So, the black fungus also belongs to the same family and follows the same rule. For it to thrive, it needs moisture and circulation. That’s one of the reasons why most patients have seen the development of the disease occuring around lips and nose.
Sugar aids the growth of mould. So, patients suffering from diabetes and people who are excessively into steroids, and are suffering from COVID-19, are more at a risk. If you see the development of any type of fungus, it is important that you avoid touching it and talk to a doctor immediately as you will require antifungals immediately.
What are the Symptoms of Black Fungus?
Symptoms and Signs of black fungus you must look out for;
Rhinocerebral (sinus and brain) mucormycosis include:
- One-sided facial swelling
- Swelling of one side of the eye
- Nasal or sinus congestion
- Black lesions on nasal bridge or upper inside of mouth that quickly become more severe
Pulmonary (lung) mucormycosis include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Cutaneous (skin) mucormycosis can look like blisters or ulcers, and the infected area may turn black. Other symptoms include pain, warmth, excessive redness, or swelling around a wound.
Symptoms of gastrointestinal mucormycosis include:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
Black Fungus Precautions for Pregnant Women
As a pregnant woman, it is important that you take extremely good care of your health since we are living in a pandemic era. However, with new diseases emerging, it becomes crucial to take all the necessary precautions to avoid any complications.
- Staying at home is extremely important. Don’t step out of the house unnecessarily because COVID is the culprit that leads to black fungus. Therefore, even if it gets boring, make sure you have fun right at home. Don’t invite people over and maintain social distancing with someone who visits.
- Keep your sugar levels in control, which happens sometimes during pregnancy, it is important to keep them in check. Regularly check your blood sugar levels and monitor them.
- Wearing masks is compulsory. Either wear a double mask, with a surgical mask inside and a cotton mask outside, or one N-95 mask when you step out.
- Follow all the COVID-19 protocols like frequent washing of hands to ensure you are safe.
- Have healthy hygiene practices.
- Don’t wear unwashed masks.
- Don’t stay in poorly ventilated rooms.
- Use sterile normal saline in a humidifier bottle and make sure you change it regularly.
- When you are washing the masks, make sure you disinfect them too.
Effects of Black Fungus on Fetus and Baby
Although the disease is not contagious, which means, it cannot be spread from one person to another, you need to seek immediate medical attention as it needs to be rectified without any delay. Babies can also contract the disease and is more seen in pre-teen children. Therefore, the solution here is to seek medical intervention to avoid any danger. However, make sure you follow the necessary precautions to avoid the condition.
Treatment Plan for Black Fungus
If you notice any signs of the infection, visit your doctor immediately. Your doctor will then conduct a physical examination and ask you questions to confirm the disease. If your doctor will notice any sign of lung or sinus infection, they may take a fluid sample, which will be sent to the lab for further diagnosis. Tissue biopsy, MRI, or CT scans may also be conducted if necessary. Once the condition is confirmed, your doctor may treat you with the following plans;
- Anti-Fungal Medicines are prescribed to stop any fungal growth. These medicines help destroy the condition and bring the infection under control.
- The doctor may also advise you to take the medicines through IV or even pills. However, if you experience any side effects, such as heartburn, stomach pain, or have trouble breathing, the treatment plan will be modified without any delay, so again, let your doctor know.
- In patients, where the black fungus is serious, the doctor might recommend surgery to remove the infected tissue to ensure it doesn’t spread. This means a part of the nose or eyes (the infected area) is removed as it is essential to avoid any life-threatening complications.