Have you heard about the black fungus infection? Do you know what is black fungus disease and why this disease is making fear in the mind of people? Black fungal infection called Mucormycosis is a rare but serious infection that requires medication or removal surgery. What are the causes of black fungus (mucormycosis)? What you can do to get prevented this lethal fungal infection, mucormycosis?
Black Fungus (Mucormycosis)
As a deadly second wave of COID-19 continues to ravage India, many cases of mucormycosis are being reported in India. Mucormycosis or black fungus is a serious but rare fungal infection. Mucormycosis mainly affects people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness.
This post is based on the video talk of Dr Palaniappan Manickam (Dr Pal), a Physician in California.
Points from the video – Black Fungus (Mucormycosis)
We used to see this mucormycosis in an English Hollywood movie, maybe like once in every 6 months to a year, but now everybody is talking about this. Let’s see what causes it. Let’s see what you can do to prevent this lethal fungal infection. Similar to viruses, Bacteria, Fungus can also cause infection in the body.
The only problem is fungus is a dummy piece. Usually, our body is strong enough to suppress this dummy piece and say ‘Goodbye’. However, if the immunity is low for any reason, it could be cancer patients, it could be HIV aid patients, in particular if the patient is in any medication like Prednisone, Steroids, or any immune suppress therapy like chemotherapy for cancer patients, then the fungus will come inside the body and attack the body and start dancing in the body. So when the immunity is low because of these diseases and medications, our immunity will become very weak and then the fungus will beat the immunity.
Mucormycosis (Black Fungus) and COVID-19
Why are we talking about Black Fungus and COVID-19? As per any viral infection, COVID-19 can also decrease your immunity, but the only problem is every COVID-19 patient is getting steroids, the Prednisone drug right and left. Prednisone is a lifesaver drug but it can also kill you if it is not used appropriately. Let’s see how?
How does Prednisone work? – Timing of steroids
Prednisone wipes out your immunity. Then how can prednisone be a lifesaver in a COVID-19 infection where you actually need immunity and antibodies to fight off the infection.
When COVID-19 enters the body there are 2 stages. The first is the first 10 days when the virus multiplies rapidly.
The damage actually happens in the second phase of the next 10 days. So the damage is because of all the byproducts of the virus stimulating unnecessary, unwanted, excess immune responses in the body that is causing all this damage.
This is exactly similar to the guy who is asking for an additional sheet of paper and writing answers for a chemistry exam when the exam is on physics. So it is absolutely important that you use prednisone or steroids only in the second half of the disease and not in the first half. If you use it in the second half, it will suppress that excess immunity preventing the patient from progressing. If you use it in the first half, it will wipe out your immunity, it will not fight your infection and the infection will progress and it can be counterproductive.
Duration of steroids
In all the studies that have been done so far, the steroids have to use only for 10 days and in a few subsets of patients. It can be used even longer if they don’t get better. Dexamethasone 6 mg works a day for 10 days. But what is happening right now is people are taking it for a longer period of time. So they start it early and they are taking it for a longer period of time which completely wipes down the immunity.
When the immunity is completely wiped down, black fungus is having the time of its life. So black fungus comes inside the body and attacks the body. It can affect the nasal cavity, it could also affect the brain causing headache, and one-sided facial swelling, and also affect the lungs causing chest pain and shortness of breath, it could also have some bleeding through the nostrils.
It can be more severe for diabetic patients if their blood glucose is very high. If blood glucose is not controlled that much, then the complications can be even more. The whole point of explaining all these to you because the prognosis of the disease is very very bad. The mortality rate is close to 50-70%. Treatment options were not available we can give an expensive item called Amphotericin B or sometimes you may also need surgical options. ENT surgeons go inside and deprive that black fungus out of your nasal cavity and also sometimes your brain. The problem is the prognosis is not that good. It is absolutely important to prevent this as much as possible.
How to prevent Black Fungus (Mucormycosis) damage?
The simplest way to prevent this is not to get exposed to COVID-19 at all. If you stay home, if you follow all the precautions, you will never have this problem ever. Unfortunately, the positivity rate in India is 25% which means 1 in 4 people are going to get exposed or infected with COVID-19. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen for all COVID-19 patients. It happens only in 2 majority of clinical situations.
- If you are taking the drug steroid Prednisone earlier and also for a longer period of time.
- If you are a diabetic which is not under control.
Don’t do self-medication for Black Fungus (Mucormycosis)
One thing you can do and making you not to use prednisone steroids by yourself and please do not use them in the first 10 days unless absolutely needed. Please talk to your doctor. Do not take your prescription prescribed by your pharmacy guide. It is absolutely important that you know if you take prednisone in the first few days of infection, it can actually kill you. I have seen so many prescriptions sent to me with Metrol, Prednisone, or steroids written for even mildly symptomatic patients within the first 10 days. Steroids are only indicated if your oxygen level goes down. Please, please I am begging you not to use prednisone by yourself, do not self-medicate, please talk to your doctor.
As I said there is only one subset of patients where you actually prolong the steroid usage by more than 10 days. So if you are taking it for more than 10 days please talk to your doctor about whether we can cut it down or if you really need them because the longer the duration of prednisone or steroid is going to decrease your immunity increases the risk of black fungus.
The other thing you can do is if you are diabetic please please make sure that your glucose levels are controlled. The fasting blood glucose the first thing you measure when you wake up should be less than or equal to 99 mg/dl. If this was my mom, she will ask what happened to the remaining 1 mg? The problem is many people don’t check their blood glucose levels at all.
I asked my aunt to get a glucometer to check her blood glucose level she asked “Pal, you first asked me to get a pulse oximeter, now you ask me to get a glucometer, then you will ask me to get a CT Scanner. Is it a house or hospital? So remember, if your fasting glucose level is more than 99 mg/dl please please consult your doctor, take it seriously, and control your glucose level, especially during this acute crisis. If your glucose level is under control, Corona cannot do that much at all.
I understand that the situation is very grave, I want this message to reach you because this fungal disease is almost lethal. Treatment options are extremely limited. So I want you to take this message very seriously. I need you to do three things.
Things to follow
- Do not get COVID-19. Stay home, stay safe.
- If you get COID-19, make sure that your blood glucose levels are under control.
- Please do not self-medicate with prednisone or steroids, especially during the first 10 days and also please talk to your doctor about how long you should take the prednisone as well.
If you do all these 3 things, the black fungus will not do anything to you at all.
Source: YouTube video above
From the above, you must have realised the seriousness of Black Fungus (Mucormycosis) and how to prevent this disease from damaging your body. The most important thing is to avoid self-medication for this disease or Covid-19. You must follow the guidelines from the health experts. He clearly says that the medicine can cure you or kill you if not taken properly. The above information is from Dr Pal and in the video itself, he says you can trust him. This is for informational purposes only and if you have any health problems, you must consult your doctor and seek his advice.
Recommended for further reading:
- How To Wear Mask Properly During COVID-19? Right Way of Wearing Double Mask
- FAQs Surrounding COVID-19 Vaccine
- Is COVID Vaccine Second Dose So Important?
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Images Credits: Screenshot of the video
Mathukutty P. V. is the founder of Simply Life Tips, a passionate Blogger, Content writer, Influencer, YouTuber. Lives with a notion “SIMPLE LIVING, CREATIVE THINKING”. Believe – “Sharing is caring.” “Learning never ends.”