The Institute of Diabetology at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH), which was involved in the treatment of thousands of COVID-19 patients, said its experience had shown that controlling blood sugar levels during treatment was crucial to avoiding mucormycosis.
As cases of the serious fungal infection are on the rise, mainly due to uncontrolled sugar levels during post-COVID-19 recovery, the institute said constant monitoring and control of sugar levels were of paramount importance as the use of steroids that push up sugar levels had become unavoidable for many COVID-19 patients.
Stressing on the need to avoid indiscriminate and unnecessary use of steroids, P. Dharmarajan, head, Institute of Diabetology, RGGGH, said steroids had, however, become effective and life-saving drugs for many moderate and severe COVID-19 cases. “Hence, more than the use of steroids, what becomes critical is the control of sugar levels of the patients,” he said.
He said administration of insulin and other drugs to control blood sugar was done in parallel to the standard COVID-19 treatment at the hospital. “When we say uncontrolled sugar levels are a major risk factor for mucormycosis, we are talking about extremely high sugar levels, leading to conditions like ketoacidosis,” Dr. Dharmarajan said.
“While we cannot bring the sugar level to fully normal levels, even managing fasting sugar levels at the range of around 200 mg/DL during and post-COVID-19 can considerably reduce the risk of mucormycosis,” he said. Highlighting that the hospital must have treated around 35,000 COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic, of which a significant percentage were diabetic, Dr. Dharmarajan said no cases of mucormycosis had been reported among those who were treated until recently.
“Only now, I heard that the ENT Department is treating a patient who had come from Chengalpattu after undergoing treatment at a hospital there,” he added.