April 24, 2021 9:10:40 am
India is currently battling the second wave of Covid-19. And even as we wait for the tide to turn and for vaccinations to catch up, we have to reckon with another rising risk, that of mucormycosis adding to the danger of Covid-19, said Dr Atul Patel, infectious disease specialist, Sterling Hospital, Ahmedabad.
“Mucormycosis is a fungal infection that has a high mortality rate of 50 per cent and an increasing number of Covid-19 patients have been developing this infection while still at the hospital or after discharge,” he told indianexpress.com.
Here are four things you should know about this infection, some of the common symptoms of which include sinusitis, blackish nasal discharge, facial pain, headaches, and pain around the eyes.
Both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients with Covid-19 may be at risk
Patients who have been hospitalised for Covid-19 and particularly those who require oxygen therapy during Covid-19 illness are at a much higher risk of mucormycosis. “However, we have also observed some cases of mucormycosis in patients with an asymptomatic Covid-19 infection who were not even aware of their diagnosis. This is why everyone needs to be aware of the symptoms of mucormycosis so that they can watch out for them,” said Dr Patel.
Diabetes and Covid-19 increase the risk of mucormycosis
Before the pandemic, patients with uncontrolled diabetes were at a higher risk of mucormycosis because the high blood sugar levels made it easier for the fungi to grow and survive, and their weaker immune systems offered less protection against the infection. During the pandemic, if infected by the virus, the risk of mucormycosis rises for these patients for two reasons. “First is that Covid-19 further impairs their immune system and second, they are given corticosteroids for their treatment it leads to a rise in their blood sugar level thus increasing their risk of mucormycosis. This combination of diabetes and Covid-19, therefore, becomes a dangerous and deadly challenge to manage,” he explained.
A sinus infection may actually be a symptom of mucormycosis
Symptoms of mucormycosis may appear non-threatening at first. But it is important that patients and their caregivers recognize these early and get the treatment required to contain the situation. The important thing is that patients speak to their doctor and follow-up if they experience any of these.
Treatment is available but must be given immediately
Today, we have a number of drugs and anti-fungal medicines that can treat mucormycosis. These are given by IV or taken orally. Surgery is needed to remove the affected dead tissues along with antifungal therapy. However, the critical factor is that treatment must be given quickly and promptly to reduce the possibility of serious consequences.
“Research is currently underway to understand more about the association between mucormycosis and Covid-19. Nonetheless, it is vital that we continue to keep our guard up, be alert to any possible symptom and get the necessary medical treatment as quickly as possible. Delay in diagnosis and treatment can make the impact of this fungal infection deadlier,” he said.
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