The media in India is abuzz with a new scare. The fungi attacks! All kinds of fungi variants attacking people. First the black fungus, then white fungus and now yellow fungus. While opinions are flying around as to why this fungi attack is underway, one possibility as to why these fungi are on the rise could be ‘THE MASK’.
WHAT IS FUNGI?
To define Fungi, they are a group of the most widely distributed living organisms which are classified in their own kingdom i.e. they are not animals, plants, or bacteria. There are about 144,000 know species of Fungi which include yeasts, rusts, molds,mildews, toadstools, smuts and mushrooms and are of great medical and environmental importance.
Fungi are everywhere in large numbers i.e. soil, air, lakes, seas, plants, animals, food and clothing. Together with bacteria, fungi are responsible for breaking down organic matter releasing nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon and oxygen into the soil and atmosphere. The next time you have beer, wine, cheese or bread remember that fungi was responsible for its creation. The most expensive Truffles used in gourmet restaurants is a Fungus.
IS FUNGI HARMFUL?
Although most Fungi are harmless to humans, some of them are capable of causing diseases under specific conditions. The environment is crucial and if there is Fungi growth in the vicinity, Fungi reproduces by releasing spores into the air which can be inhaled or can attach itself on the skin or nails. This can potentially affect the skin, nails or lungs and in extreme conditions affect your organs or cause a body-wide systemic infection. Fungi can be contagious.
HOW DOES THE FUNGI ATTACK US?
The immunity of humans is key to ward off fungal attacks. Taking antibiotics not only destroys harmful bacteria but healthy ones too. This brings our immunity down giving the fungi an opportunity to attack. Corticosteroid usage over a period of time, exposure to radiation or harsh medication can cause the immunity to weaken which then gives the fungi perfect opportunity to strike.
Fungi thrive in certain environments and a few of them are:
i. Suppressed Immunity – caused by stress, smoking, nutrient deficiencies, disorders etc.
ii. Certain Medications – antibiotics, corticosteroids, radiation.
iii. Skin Injury or Infections – Small injuries of the nail or skin can allow the fungi to attack the inner layers. Hence it’s critical to clean any wound up immediately and apply sterile dressing or bandage.
iv. Poor blood circulation – Poor blood circulation hinders the body’s immune response.
v. Dampness and dark spaces – Fungi thrive on damp areas and it could be on walls, wooden surfaces etc. It is imperative to keep the toilets dry and aired and the premises lit with natural sunlight if possible. Otherwise, its important to constantly air out clothes and other items to fresh air and sunlight and store what is not used often in airtight covers / containers with moisture absorbing materials like Silica Gel.
vi. Compromised Centralised Air-conditioning Systems – Fungi can develop in the air ducts on the insulation material and spores can be transferred through the air ducts. Poorly maintained Centralised air Conditioning Systems in Hospitals, Office Complexes etc. can be a major concern.
vii. Unclean Mask – As the mask is exposed to dust, pollution and fungal spore, it has to be washed everyday.
viii. Wearing a mask too long – As the mask is worn for prolonged hours, the carbon dioxide (Co2) levels go up in the body causing the Co2 levels in the blood to go up over time. This brings down the immunity. If you are of the habit of wearing the mask for hours on end especially the one’s which do not allow you to blow out a candle flame, then it is imperative you get your blood gas levels checked periodically as if the Co2 levels go up, this will compromise your immunity. You will have to get yourself a good Bipap machine to remove the Co2 or join a Yoga class and practise Kapalabhati which helps to expel the excess Co2 in the blood stream.
ix. Excessive Steam Inhalation – Steam inhalation should not be done to a point where the skin starts to peel off or the inner part of the nose starts to burn. When immunity is compromised, any lining which is damaged be it the mucous lining or the top layer of the skin can cause fungal infection.
x. Excessive consumption of Vitamins, Minerals and Medication – Each individual has a unique constitution. Therefore a one size fits all approach is not feasible. However, modern science has pushed human kind to a one size fits all situation where vaccinations, medications, dosages are all standardised. Blood group are ignored, height & weight not considered, underlying medical conditions brushed aside and nutrition intake and living environment not considered. Pharma companies and Hospitals are huge money making machines and the human a commodity. Without understanding what the body needs, consuming over the counter vitamins, minerals and medicines can lead to a compromised immunity. On the other had, consuming natural sources like turmeric, ginger, ashwagandha, jesthamadhu and many such roots and herbs does not harm the body as much as the synthetic versions do.
xi. Unsanitary nasal swabs used for RT-PCR test – In UK and USA nasal swabs are being sterilised using gamma radiation before the swabs are used for tests. But in India, no such sanitation is being done on the swabs before usage. Apparently, most prevalent mucor mycosis strain is the rhino – orbito – cerebral strain which starts from the nose and then proceeds towards the eye and skull. This too points a finger at the unsanitary nasal swabs.
a. Keep your premises aired with sunlight and dry.
b. Wash your mask every day with anti fungal liquid.
c. Keep your hygiene up.
d. Wear dry clothes and keep skin dry.
e. Avoid using other’s towels or bar soaps.
f. Wash hands after touching any unhygienic surfaces, people or animals.
g. Wipe any unknown surface, car steering, etc before using it.
h. Keep your nutrition levels up with leafy greens, herbs, roots, berries, spices and adequate carbs.
i. Keep your mask off when alone or at a distance from people. Avoid enclosed spaces with centralised Air-conditioning for too long as anyone with an infection can spread the same via the recycling of the air and no mask can help.
j. Ensure that any swabs used for RT-PCR or any other reason in hospitals and elsewhere are thoroughly sterilised.
Most fungal infections can be avoided by tackling the problem immediately. Be it a damp wall which needs the water leak to be plugged with a fresh coat of paint, or a dark cupboard which needs airing and light ever so often. If you have an open scratch or wound, attend to it immediately. As the classic saying goes ” a stitch in time saves nine”. Most external fungal infections are cured with over the counter anti fungal creams or powder. However, if things don’t clear up in a few days or the condition seems to be worsening, a doctor needs to be consulted right away. Another prevention method is to consume lactobacillus to introduce good bacteria in the body to boost the immunity and the right dosage of vitamins and minerals to support preferably from natural sources. There are several Ayurvedic treatments and natural home remedies but its always better to consult an expert on these matters to get the best results.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advise. See a medical expert for medication and treatment.