While India is still battling with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the cases of black fungus or mucormycosis are on the rise, especially among the patients recovering from the Coronavirus infection. It has emerged as a new health hazard, with the Indian Health Ministry declaring it as an epidemic already. Apart from black fungus, many Indian states have also recorded cases of yellow and white fungus infection, which is said to be the most dangerous out of the three.
This along with the ongoing pandemic situation has scared the people of the country, especially the older adults, leaving them perplexed about the severity of the situation, since the difference between black, white and yellow fungus is unclear.
Difference Between The Three Fungal Infections
1. Black Fungus
Also called Mucormycosis, the infection affects the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses and sometimes even the eyes, which can lead to blindness and even extend to the brain. What increases severity is its angioinvasive characteristics that can enter the surrounding blood vessels in the affected area, resulting in tissue necrosis. As the tissue is destroyed in such a condition, it appears to be black, giving it the name ‘Black Fungus’.
The use of steroids in the treatment of Coronavirus infection makes the patient prone to black fungus infection, especially those with diabetes.
The symptoms of infection depend upon its severity, however, a few common ones include,
● Nasal bleeding
● Nasal blockage
● Nasal discharge
● Facial pain and swelling
● Blur and watery vision
One needs to visit an ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) specialist for the black fungus treatment, who will diagnose the same through an MRI scan and prescribe some commonly used drugs as a cure. While it is generally cured with medication, severe black fungus infection may require surgery during treatment.
2. White Fungus
White fungus infection is also being witnessed in COVID-19 patients during recovery. The fungus comes from the Candida group that means ‘dirty white’, and generally affects people with a compromised immune state due to COVID, HIV, Cancer, Transplant, Diabetes and other health conditions.
The mould or fungus is present in the environment and can be easily inhaled by a person, after which, it impacts the vital organs, resulting in complications.
The symptoms of white fungus infection are similar to those of COVID-19 infection.
● Reduced oxygen level
● Dark spots on the lungs
● Facial swelling and pain
White fungus infection is curable with various antifungal medicines and does not require any injections, unlike the black fungus treatment. While it has no direct connection with chronic health problems like diabetes, it can still aggravate the infection.
3. Yellow Fungus
Yellow fungus infection is known to be a fatal disease as it does not have any visible signs and symptoms, unlike the other two types, leading to a delay in its diagnosis and treatment. This is one of the key differences between black, white and yellow fungus. The infection can involve paranasal sinuses and can further spread to other parts of the body.
Yellow fungus infection is caused by inhalation of the mould present in the environment. Besides, it can also spread through the consumption of contaminated or stale food. Further, an unhygienic living environment and a high level of humidity are some other causes of yellow fungus infection.
The symptoms of yellow fungus infection include,
● Weight loss
● Poor appetite
● Sunken eyes with cavity/fungal wall
The only available treatment of yellow fungus infection is Amphotericin B injection. It is an antifungal drug that is also used to treat black fungus. Further, the symptoms of yellow fungus should be closely and carefully monitored in patients to avoid any complications.
How are these related to Coronavirus infection?
COVID-19 or Coronavirus is the primary cause of fungal infection in patients as it elevates the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NRL) in the body. This affects the cell immunity of the patient and makes him or her vulnerable to fungal infections, Herpes, TB, and so on. This is common in diabetic or elderly patients as their immunity is already compromised due to age and health issues.
The secondary cause, which is also related to the coronavirus infection, is the overuse of steroids during its treatment, which compromises the body’s immune system. Further, uncontrolled use of oxygen cylinders and being on a ventilator for a long period of time are some of the reasons that contribute to any of the three fungal infections.
Fungal infection generally spreads due to lack of hygiene and improper care while recovering from coronavirus infection. This can be a major cause of concern in older adults as their age does not allow them to take care of themselves. They always need someone to provide utmost care and ample love and affection to not make them feel a burden on others.
Try to keep your and their surroundings clean to prevent the growth of mould in the environment. Further, ensure proper sanitization of ventilators, oxygen cylinders, bedding, etc. to ensure a speedy and healthy recovery.
You can also get home care for elders through Emoha to provide them the right care. We are a community, helping elderly people live happy, healthy, and comfortable golden years. We ensure that our elders are well taken care of because, for us, it is always #EldersFirst