Posted August 25, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 3 min read
Mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, is a rare but dangerous infection. It's caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes and often affects the sinuses, lungs, skin, and brain. You can inhale the mold spores or come into contact with them in things like soil, rotting produce or bread, or compost piles.
It’s caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes and often affects the sinuses, lungs, skin, and brain.
You can inhale the mold spores or come into contact with them in things like soil, rotting produce or bread, or compost piles.
Diabetes, especially when it isn’t under control
HIV or AIDS
Stem cell transplant
Neutropenia (low white blood cell count)
Long-term steroid use
Injected drug use
High levels of iron in your body (hemochromatosis)
Bad health from poor nutrition
Uneven levels of acid in your body (metabolic acidosis)
Premature birth or low birth weight
Shortness of breath
Swelling on one side of your face
Black lesions on the bridge of your nose or the inside of your mouth
Nausea and vomiting
Blood in your stool
If you suspect mucormycosis, your doctor will give you a physical exam and ask about your medical history. Let them know if you’ve been around spoiled foods or other places in which fungal spores are often found.
If it looks like you have a lung or sinus infection, your doctor may take a sample of the fluid from your nose or throat and send it to be tested in a lab. They might also do a tissue biopsy, taking out a small piece of infected tissue for testing.
Your doctor may do imaging tests like CT or MRI scans to find out whether the infection has spread to your brain or other organs.
If you’re diagnosed with mucormycosis, you should start treatment as soon as possible with prescription antifungal medications. These medicines stop the growth of the fungus, destroy it, and bring the infection under control.
You might take:
You get these medications through a vein (intravenous or IV) or as pills that you swallow. Your doctor may start with high doses through an IV until the infection is under control, which can take several weeks. Then, you’ll switch to pills.
Let your doctor know if a medication has troublesome side effects like stomach pain, heartburn, or trouble breathing. They may be able to change your treatment plan.
In severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove infected or dead tissue to keep the fungus from spreading. This might include removing parts of your nose or eyes. It can be disfiguring. But it’s crucial to treat this life-threatening infection.
There’s no way to avoid breathing in spores. But you can do a few things to lower your chances of mucormycosis. It’s especially important if you have a health condition that raises your risk.
Stay away from areas with a lot of dust or soil, like construction or excavation sites. If you have to be in these areas, wear a face mask like an N95.
Avoid infected water. This can include floodwater or water-damaged buildings, especially after natural disasters like hurricanes or floods.
If you have a weakened immune system, avoid activities that involve dust and soil, like gardening or yard work. If you can’t, protect your skin with shoes, gloves, long pants, and long sleeves. Wash cuts or scrapes with soap and water as soon as you can.
If you get mucormycosis, be sure to take your medications as directed. If side effects cause problems or the infection doesn’t get better, let your doctor know right away.