All About Black Fungal Disease
COVID19 has become a regular part of our lives and our news updates. The global pandemic has been constantly evolving into different variants – each with its unique set of symptoms and health impacts. India has so marked close to 4.26 crore cases of COVID19. During the dawn of these cases, a new and rare infection has been reported among COVID recovered patients. Black fungal disease or popularly known as the black fungus has concerned the nation and world, at large.
In this article, with the help of expert insights from Dr Rajiva Gupta, a leading internal medicine specialist at the CK Birla Hospital, we will explore the symptoms, causes, recovery and treatment of black fungal disease.
What Is Black Fungal Disease?
The black fungal disease, scientifically known as Mucormycosis, is a rare but serious fungal infection. The origin of this disease is a fungus (called Mucormycetes)that develops from a mould that grows on decaying organic matter.
Black fungus infection affects individuals with a weakened immune system.
Black Fungus Symptoms
Black fungus disease is identified by a range of symptoms affecting the skin and respiratory function of a person. This fungal infection can affect your brain, skin, lungs, and gastrointestinal system.
Common black fungus symptoms include:
- Nasal or sinus congestion
- Pain & redness around the eyes and nose
- Blurry vision
- Eye swelling
- Chest pain
- Redness on skin
- Painful swellings appearing on the skin
- Blackening of skin tissues
- Ulcers and blisters appearing on the skin
- Blood in the stool
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Pain in the stomach
- Nausea and vomiting
What Causes Black Fungal Disease?
Mucormycosis is an airborne infection, meaning that it can transmit and spread through air droplets. The fungus causing this disease is present in the environment in animal dung, compost, soil, leaves, manure and rotting fruits and vegetables.
The black fungus can enter your body through open wounds in the skin or breathing and present itself through the above-given symptoms. Once the infection enters your body, it can damage your blood vessels.
Black fungus is not contagious, that is it cannot spread from one person to another. However, you can come in contact with airborne droplets carrying mucormycetes.
Why Is Black Fungus Occurring in COVID Patients?
Researchers know that black fungal disease spread in people who have weakened immunity. The number of black fungus cases is growing significantly in recovering or recovered COVID patients. It is because the medications used in the treatment of coronavirus are immunosuppressants (that is, they further reduce immunity). COVID medications also increase your blood sugar levels, further lowering your immune defences.
Due to a compromised immune system, COVID patients are more vulnerable to developing black fungus. Hence black fungus COVID is becoming very prominent and progressing largely.
Who Can Get Affected by Black Fungus?
Besides COVID19, a weak immune system resulting from other underlying medical conditions can also make an individual susceptible to developing black fungus.
Here are some common health problems and treatments that weaken your immunity and hence increase your chances of developing this disease:
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Long-term steroid use
- High levels of iron in your body
- Premature birth
- Surgical transplant
Black fungal disease can be life-threatening for patients who have the above health problems.
Can I Prevent Black Fungal Disease?
Black fungus infection can be prevented with the application of certain precautionary measures. Here are some steps you can take to help prevent this disease:
1. Boost your immunity
The primary element of prevention is to strengthen your immune system. If you are suffering from COVID19, your healthcare provider will provide certain guidelines to help enhance your symptoms, overall health and immunity. Irrespective of being affected by COVID, you should eat a healthy diet that includes nutrient-dense, immunity-boosting foods.
2. Practice COVID safe behaviour
In order to prevent black fungus, it is inevitably important to prevent COVID. You should follow stringent safety measures that include wearing a face mask, maintaining social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and getting vaccinated.
3. Practice hygiene
An unhygienic environment is a fundamental cause for the spread of black fungal infection. Whether you are at your home or at a healthcare facility receiving treatment for COVID19, make sure to take care of your surroundings and practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently, improve air ventilation and sanitise high-touch surfaces.
Take extra care of your skin by cleansing and moisturising daily in order to remove dead skin cells and dirt from your body.
4. Avoid contact with mould
The black fungal infection spreads when you come in contact with decaying mould. Remain wary and stay away from mould-prone areas such as construction sites and gardens. In addition, try to cover your skin and exposed wounds properly by applying bandages, wearing full sleeves and covering your legs.
How is the black fungal disease treated?
Black fungus is a rare disease and its symptoms present differently in every individual. The treatment protocol, hence, is also dependent on factors including your overall health, the severity of symptoms and age.
If you experience any of the aforementioned black fungus symptoms, you should consult a doctor to confirm the diagnosis. Your doctor will take your personal medical history, evaluate your symptoms and perform a manual health check. Further, he/she may order diagnostic tests including tissue biopsy, CT scan and examining the fluid sample of your nose.
Primarily, your healthcare provider will prescribe antifungal medication to help treat black fungus symptoms. These medications are aimed at relieving symptoms and bringing the infection under control.
However, if the infection is not treated in a timely manner, your doctor may recommend surgical treatment to remove dead skin tissues.
The concluding note
Black fungal disease is a rare and serious infection affecting a large population in India. Mainly, this infection is found in recovering or recovered COVID19 patients. Nonetheless, it has the potential of affecting people unaffected by COVID.
It is important to take necessary precautions during such critical times. Though, black fungus is treatable, preventing it should be the primary concern of all individuals.
If you are experiencing black fungus symptoms, consult Dr Rajiva Gupta, an internal medicine specialist at the CK Birla Hospital.
Q. Does Black Fungus affect only Covid patients?
No, the black fungus can affect anyone with a weak immune system. This infection can also develop in individuals who have compromised immunity due to underlying health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Q. Who are at higher risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19?
Elderly, people living with comorbidities, pregnant women or any other individual who is at a high risk of weakened immunity are susceptible to developing this disease.
Q. Is headache a symptom of black fungus?
Yes, black fungus symptoms include headache.