Monday, June, 21,2021

Overuse of steroids causing mucormycosis in nCoV patients

Diabetics at higher risk since excessive steroids increase blood sugar levels and lower immunity

Ahmedabad: The overuse of steroids to treat COVID-19 has led to a large number of cases mucormycosis infections, caused by the fungus commonly known as black mould, experts say.  

ENT specialist Dr Shamik Mehta said that the pandemic has given rise to a plethora of cases of the usually rare disease.

“Diabetic patients who are given steroids and high ferritin serum develop acidosis, which in turn lowers their immunity. Such patients are at higher risk of developing mucormycosis.

I have been seeing at least three such patients a day, since of late. I estimate there are at least 5,000 cases of mucormycosis in Ahmedabad alone.

While it is treatable, it is a painful process. We have to remove the tissue along with the sinus from the nostrils, after which the patient need anti-fungal injections for 10 days,” Dr Mehta said.  

According to Dr Mohak Shah, director of Cure Spects Eye Care Laser hospital, “The infection is more common in patients who are already suffering from diabetes or are taking immunosuppressants.

Mainly, this happens due to the aggressive use of steroids, which increases blood sugar levels.

To prevent this, the blood sugar levels of COVID-19 patients must be monitored regularly, and their insulin dosage adjusted accordingly,” Dr Shah said, adding, “Medical instruments such as high-flow nasal cannulas and other equipment need be sterilized properly and the water in ventilators needs to be changed regularly.”

Dr Shah said he has also been seeing a high number of mucormycosis cases in the past week.  

Ophthalmologist Dr Sapan Shah who is currently monitoring the health of COVID-19 patients at the city-run hospitals said, “There is a high number of cases of mucormycosis these days, especially among ICU patients who are being treated with steroids.

A decrease in immunity, an increase in blood sugar levels, and high iron levels act as a favourable environment for the fungi. The infection begins in the nose and then spreads to the eyes,” he explained.  

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