Bombay, June 3, 2021: The cases of mucormycosis we are seeing represent only a tiny fraction of the cases of COVID-19, informed gastroenterologist Dr Rajeev Jayadevan during a webinar on “Mucormycosis and dental health in relation to COVID-19”, organized today by the Press Information Office. The other expert member of the webinar was prosthodontist Dr Neeta Rana. The physician advice and knowledge conveyed in the webinar is presented as key points below.
What makes people prone to mucormycosis?
Explaining what makes COVID-19 patients prone to mucormycosis, Dr Jayadevan said, “Having COVID-19 in the context of diabetes and steroid use is a classic setting for triple immune suppression. COVID-19 affects many segments of our body, including our immune system ”. Stating that there is a link between diabetes and mucormycosis, the doctor informed, “Many people in our country suffer from diabetes. Considering this and our population, the number of people getting sick is higher than in any other country. So it’s understandable that some of them get mucormycosis.
Dr Jayadevan, who has written several articles for doctors, policy makers and the general public during the pandemic, said: “The way I see it, a tiny proportion of the large number of people infected with COVID-19 are infected by mucormycosis, so this proportion becomes a large number ”.
The doctor further explained: “Cases of mucormycosis have been observed in people with reduced immunity, mainly due to diabetes or after organ transplants. Over the past two months, we’ve seen an increase in mucormycosis in people without these conditions. It is a new development. But we need studies to confirm the reasons for the increase in cases in people without traditional risk factors. “
Diabetes and mucormycosis
Dr Jayadevan says: “For diabetic patients, when the blood sugar levels of sugars cannot be controlled, the immune system is not able to function properly. In severe diabetes, the function of cells that fight pathogens such as neutrophils is impaired. Such factors make us prone to contracting mucormycosis. A high sugar level in itself is conducive to fungal growth. The fungus likes sugar, it likes trace metals like zinc, it also grows on dead tissue and until the body repairs the dead tissue, fungi can grow on it ”.
In the next step, “The fungus invades our blood cells, our tissues do not receive oxygen and die, and when the tissues die, they turn black in color. This is the reason why the name black fungus is used for mucormycosis, ”the gastroenterologist explained in layman’s terms for the benefit of laypersons.
Dental health and mucormycosis
Dental expert Dr Neeta Rana explains, “There is definitely a link between good dental health and infection with COVID-19. When the teeth, gums, and pallet are well cared for, naturally occurring microorganisms will work well and viral infection is less likely to occur. If the wound after tooth extraction is not well maintained, if good oral hygiene is not observed, then we increase the chances of catching mucormycosis ”.
Brushing, flossing, mouthwashing and rinsing will also help maintain good dental health, Dr. Neeta advised.
Vaccination and mucormycosis
Dr Jayadevan says: “If you contract COVID-19 after vaccination, it will be mild in the vast majority of cases.” The doctor further suggested that drugs are not needed in mild cases of COVID. Therefore, with mild COVID-19, the risk of catching steroid-related mucormycosis will be low, the doctor said. “But if instead of letting the mild COVID case heal on its own, if the person starts self-medication, taking drugs that are not needed, it can pave the way for a fungal infection that would never have happened first. place, ”he said. warned.
Post-COVID and Mucormycosis
Dr Jayadevan said: “The effects of immunosuppression and COVID-19 treatment will remain in the body for a while, just like we see ripples in a river, long after a boat has crossed the river. river”. Therefore, his advice is to “stay alert for a few weeks after recovering and not do anything adventurous or experimental with your body.” Against the background of immunosuppression that makes patients predisposed to mucormycosis, Dr Jayadevan informs: “So many studies have conclusively shown that the good, healthy bacteria living in our bodies improve our body’s defense against them. invasive bad bacteria. Thus, prolonged and unnecessary use of antibiotics is a significant risk factor for fungal and bacterial infections ”. In this regard, Dr. Jayadevan indicated that the vast majority of people in our country engage in some form of self-treatment. The doctor strongly advised against this practice. His advice in this regard: “Just follow the basic instructions given by the doctor you are in contact with and avoid unnecessary medications.”
If the mucormycosis infection comes from the environment?
Dr. Jayadevan says, “Mushrooms are out there all around us. Don’t be too afraid to venture out for fear of catching a fungal infection. Fungi have been around for centuries and mucormycosis is a rare infection, occurring in very few cases ”.
Dental care in a pandemic
Dr Neeta advises: “Be in touch with your dental doctor, teleconsultation will be helpful in many cases. If the guidelines are followed in dental clinics, there should be no reason to worry about catching an infection, but don’t be overzealous. Follow the doctor’s advice regarding the physical visit to a dental clinic ”.
How long can vaccines provide immunity against COVID-19?
Dr Jayadevan explains, “When we encounter a repeat infection or infection after vaccination, the memory cells introduced from a previous infection immediately kick in. Studies show that memory cells last at least a year ”. Explaining the function of vaccines, the doctor said, “What vaccines primarily do is prevent serious illness or death if infected; many scientists believe that immunity from vaccines is reasonably long-lasting, capable of protecting us for many years ”.
Advice for people exposed to COVID-19
Dr Jayadevan says, “Never take it lightly. There is no need to panic. But, after 5-6 days, if your symptoms get worse, tired, short of breath, unable to eat, chest pain, or just not well, go to hospital and see a doctor. Alternatively, you can also do a teleconsultation with a doctor ”.
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