In the wake of the second wave of COVID-19 in India, the country is also grappling with a sudden rise in fungal infections– black, white, and yellow. Fungal infections are common in humans and can be of several types – mucormycosis, candida, yeast infection, aspergillosis, cryptococcus, and histoplasmosis, among others. These fungal infections are also more common in people with weakened or poor immunity, and many of them are not communicable.
Let’s delve a bit deeper into the difference between the black, white and yellow fungal infections commonly seen in COVID-19 patients in the recovery phase.
Black Fungus: Causes and Symptoms
Black fungus disease, scientifically called mucormycosis or zygomycosis, is a rare fungal disease caused by the mucormycosis fungus. The spores of this fungus are found scattered in air, soil, decaying wood and manure. The reason black fungus cases in India were rising rapidly during the second wave was due to certain groups of people who are at high risk of developing the disease:
- Diabetics having uncontrolled blood sugar levels
- People taking steroid medication
- Those with compromised immunity
- Prolonged ICU stay
- People already under treatment for conditions like chronic kidney ailments, cancer, etc.
The symptoms of black fungus disease depend upon the area that they affect. Some common symptoms of this disease include:
- Altered sensation in the cheek or nose bridge
- Unilateral swelling or inflammation in the cheek area
- Headache and fever
- Black lesions around the nose, nose bridge and on the upper jaw inside the mouth
- Nasal or sinus congestion
- Redness around the infected area
- Double vision or blurriness
- Darkening of the skin on the nose
Pulmonary symptoms of this fungal infection include shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, chest pain and cough.
White Fungus: Causes and Symptoms
Just as India dealt with the deadly black fungus cases, an equally deadly white fungus infection began spreading in COVID-19 recovered patients. The primary cause of the white fungus disease was said to be the contaminated oxygen cylinders and excessive use of steroids in treating COVID-19 cases.
White fungus infection affects different parts of the body, including the skin, stomach, brain and mouth, similar to black fungus infections. White fungus cases in India had a high propensity for:
- COVID-19 patients who are on oxygen support
- Prolonged steroid use
- People with comorbidities
Symptoms of white fungus disease include:
- White fungal patches on the inside of the cheeks, tongue, the roof of the mouth and throat
- Soreness in the affected areas and pain on eating and swallowing
- Loss of taste
- A cotton-like feeling in the mouth with redness in the affected areas
- Cracking, redness and soreness in the corner of the mouth
Yellow Fungus: Causes and Symptoms
Yellow fungus cases in India are way fewer than black and white fungus, but it is way deadlier than the other two. The primary reason for this is that the yellow fungus directly attacked the internal organs of the body. One can get a yellow fungus infection by breathing in the spores from the air. It is also known to spread via contaminated food.
Other causative factors causing yellow fungus disease include an unsanitary environment and living conditions, poor hygiene, and high humidity levels. Similar to the black and white fungus cases, yellow fungus infection is not contagious.
Symptoms of yellow fungus disease include:
- Sudden weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Pus accumulation and discharge
- Sunken eyes
The key to successfully treating yellow fungus infection is to spot the symptoms early and seek treatment promptly.
In the wake of rising fungal cases in post-COVID-19 recovered patients, there have been many preventive measures that one can take to stay clear of these fungal diseases. Taking appropriate measures in the COVID-19 recovered phase can help prevent these fungal infections.