An important aspect of health during the pandemic is ensuring protection against the black and white fungal infections, Dr Shikha Nehru Sharma explains how to manage it and what are the keys to holistic health
Even though the number of cases from the Coronavirus have gone down in recent times, experts warn of a possible third wave. As such ensuring good hygiene and health is imperative to ensure that virus and other problems it brings on can be effectively tackled.
To ensure that health risks from the pandemic can be managed and individuals are able to escape problems like the Black and White fungus infections Dr Shikha Nehru Sharma, Founder and Managing Director Nutriwel Health (India) Pvt Ltd New, shares her expert views. But to help better prepare against these infections one needs to understand what they are and what can be done to minimise the risk of catching them.
Dr Shikha explains that “Black fungus (Mucormycosis) is a rare fungal infection due to a group of molds called mucormycetes. These are very common fungi living everywhere within our environment like soil and in any dying or decaying matter like leaves, kitchen waste, animals etc. The person getting infected has dark patches around the nasal area. It eats the tissue and destroys nasal sinuses, eyes and can travel up to the brain tissue. It is rare because it affects people who have very low immunity due to a pre-existing disorder or low immunity like heavy steroids, cancer treatment , and other conditions with very low immunity”.
Similarly she explains that the “White fungus, which goes by the name of Aspergillosis, is even more dangerous than the black fungus as it spreads all over the body like skin, kidney, brain and lungs”.
Now that we know what the two fungal infections are and how they attack the human body let us look at individuals who are most at risk of being affected by them.
Dr Shikha explains that people with uncontrolled diabetes, people who were given steroids to control the Covid side effects and people with pre-existing steroid use due to some other condition are the most at risk of being plagued by the infections. Other than that individuals with low immunity due to some other condition like cancer , lung disease etc. and people with compromised immune function, severe comorbidities , old age with health issues are also at risk.
She also says that even though such a serious condition needs immediate medical attention and specialist care , however one should be vigilant post Covid, during recovery period and take some precautions to minimise the risk of fungal attack
Some of the symptoms of these fungal infections that people should be on the lookout for according to her are “patient who despite testing Covid negative do not seem to be improving and may have several symptoms like, fever, headache, swelling on the face or sinus congestion , dark spots around nasal area, sometimes bleeding from the nose, grogginess and heaviness in the head, visual or eyesight problems”.
“In cases where the fungus has spread to the body it may show up as general symptoms like fever, cough, chest pain, difficulty breathing, skin lesions like patches or blister like conditions, pain redness and swelling on the skin, Some may experience gastrointestinal problems like pain in the abdomen, loose motions, severe weakness, blood spots in stools” she adds.
So what are some of the precautions that can be taken to avoid infections?
Dr Shikha explains that ensuring Dental hygiene and mouth hygiene is of paramount importance.
- Clean the mouth with warm saline water rinses.
- Gargle twice a day with salt and turmeric warm water.
- Massage the gums and teeth with a mix of coconut oil with salt.
- If the patient is stable and recovering at home, try oil pulling with coconut oil. Oil pulling is a process in which 70 ml of coconut oil with a pinch of salt is used to swish in the mouth continuously for 70 minutes, after which the oil is spit out and the mouth is rinsed with warm water or one can even brush one’s teeth.
- Chewing 7 pieces of clove and 7 cardamom slowly twice a day.
Other than this, ensuring good hygiene of the nose and throat is also important, some steps that can be taken to improve hygiene include
- Applying a few drops of coconut oil in the nostrils and around the nose
- Steam inhalation twice a day
- Using sterile water in the Oxygen humidifier
- Cleaning the Breathing Apparatus and mask regularly
- Overall Sanitation and hygiene of the environment where the patient is recovering 6- Regular Sunshine exposure
Apart from the steps mentioned above, overall wellness of the body and mind is also very important when it comes to facing the pandemic and the fungal infections brought on by it. Holistic wellness can only be achieved with a balanced diet, regular exercise and proper care. An important aspect of holistic health comes when individuals follow a routine that strengthens their mind and body. One exercise that can work wonders according to Dr Shikha, who calls it “a power packed comprehensive exercise for overall health”, is the suryanamaskar.
She says that “In our regular day, we usually are sitting or slouching and even while walking around in the house, our posture puts us at risk for many disorders like back pain, knee pain, cervical pain and metabolic diseases. In modern cities, space is always a constraint and during the pandemic when people are choosing to stay at home, living in apartments with limited space to move around has put the entire family at risk for disorders”.
She explains why doing the suryanamaskar everyday is so beneficial “It is a set of twelve postures done consecutively that are part of the yoga. It is the only exercise which covers the entire body, uses its own body weight, has benefits for every muscle,joint and metabolic system, and can be done in a limited space without the use of any gadget or device. It has been seen in research that doing the set of twelve postures exercises popularly known as Suryanamaskar have many benefits like It opens up the chest and lung (diaphragm and chest space) allowing for a greater amount of Oxygen to flow in ”.
She further adds that it also allows for the parts of the lung to open up which are usually not used and therefore vulnerable to anaerobic infections. At normal sedentary time we use just one third of our lung capacity. The set of twelve exercises allows for draining the excess mucus in the lungs and opens up the chest cavity.
The other benefits are that it improves the abdominal core muscles strength. The core muscle strength and tone is critical to overall health and controlling diabetes. The reason being that in diabetics, metabolic diseases and heart diseases, it is seen that the fat deposition is highest around the abdomen. The exercises in suryanamaskar opens up and give flexibility to all the joints like the cervical , head and neck , shoulder joint, hip joint, knee joint, ankle joint, wrist joint.The muscles of the shoulder region, arms, legs and hips are exercised and stretched besides using the body weight to strengthen the muscles. With each exercise, as we inhale and exhale it also helps us to calm our nerves by activating the parasympathetic system.