Your Nose May Know More When It Comes to COVID-19

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A University of Cincinnati ear, nose and throat specialist says your nose may hold a clue in identifying COVID-19.

The loss of smell may be a key indicator.

Physicians are increasingly recognizing the importance of the nasal cavity in determining the physiology of COVID-19, explains Ahmad Sedaghat, an associate professor in the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine’s Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and an UC Health physician specializing in diseases of the nose and sinuses.

“COVID-19 is not associated with the symptoms that are typically associated with a viral cold such as nasal blockage or mucus production,” says Sedaghat. “This distinction is also why it is fairly easy to distinguish COVID-19 from seasonal allergies.

“COVID-19 is associated with a fairly unique combination of nasal symptoms: a sudden loss of one’s sense of smell, also known as ‘anosmia,’ without nasal obstruction,” said Sedaghat. “The occurrence of sudden onset anosmia without nasal obstruction is highly predictive of COVID-19 and should trigger the individual to immediately self-quarantine with presumptive COVID-19.”

Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand Ahmad Sedaghat, MD, PhD, is shown in the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute.

Most individuals experiencing COVID-19 report symptoms two to 14 days after exposure such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. Medical assistance is needed if individuals have trouble breathing, persistent pressure or pain in the chest or confusion or inability to rouse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For most, recovery comes without assistance.

Sedaghat’s conclusions are available in Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology, where he explains that anosmia without nasal obstruction is “a highly specific indicator of COVID-19.”

His findings are based on his review of 19 studies which describe the sinus and nasal disorders reported in relation to the current coronavirus plaguing the nation. Sedaghat’s published paper also references a recent study led by Paris physicians Dominique Salmon and Alain Corré, which shows that out of a group of 55 patients presenting with anosmia without nasal obstruction 94% were found to test positive for COVID-19 by nasal swabbing and polymerase chain reaction tests.

Sedaghat said COVID-19 can be spread when the virus, if present in the body, is produced in the lining of the nose and then released into mucus. “When someone sneezes, this mucus — which contains the virus — is aerosolized outwards. Similarly, if someone wipes their nose and then touches surfaces without washing their hands first, that could lead to spread of COVID-19,” explains Sedaghat.

Loss of smell can occur during anytime an individual is infected with COVID-19, but when this occurs as an initial symptom it is particularly instructive, says Sedaghat.

“A sudden loss of one’s sense of smell wouldn’t trigger most people to think they have COVID-19,” explains Sedaghat. “These individuals could continue business as usual and spread the disease as a carrier. The guidelines for when to formally test for COVID-19 remain fluid in the setting of limited tests. But if someone experiences anosmia without nasal obstruction, aside from quarantining, it would not be unreasonable to reach out to one’s primary care physician about getting tested.”

Sedaghat says the nasal cavity is likely the major site of entry and infection by COVID-19 since at least 90% of inhaled air enters the body through the nose. “Nasal virus production is at very high levels and tends to occur early in the disease process while patients are still asymptomatic or having very mild symptoms,” he says.

19 Comments
  1. They could use a gently squeezed clothes pin type thing for the nose it is most likely through the nose because of the hair fibers in the nose which I hope anyway not in your mouth. And it’s exposed constantly. This also I saw personally the MRSA epidemic in Florida and many of them had the inflammation in their nose! Big pus filled sores. That was a communicable disease and nothing at all was shut down or promoted like this. This is probably a derivative of the MRSA? And that was seriously hard to get rid of. Now this is way beyond population control and conveniently we are all seperated not worshiping in our churches and not really taking to each other I can’t stop thinking that this is some gigantic scheme to take the ones they want and leave the rest behind like in the book series Left Behind and the ones that don’t have it are left here to die and the others that you think are dead are being guarded . just doesn’t make any sense how the Chinese staying inside passes the virus completely sumthin is off it has been ever since Trump went into office, nothing is normal to say least. We will have to all pray about it. Harder than ever before talk to your friend and family’s tell them a time of day and pray together its stronger this way. We have turned our backs on God and our faith that he will heal and make everything good again! Believe in him and you shall have everlasting life! Either way things go at least you will be right with the Lord! I’m praying for the children and the elderly and I’m praying for the devil to get behind me and you should too!

  2. The staff infection MRSA was found in the drug Cocaine and when it was put under a microscope they found lama hair in the powder they couldn’t figure out what was making it smell like burnt hair or as we called it back then Dirty Socks and. When I tell you that 80 percent of all drug users at that time got MRSA I’m not telling lies! That’s how it got the name ! I really think this may have something to do with this corona virus and it makes sense and right now heroin and meth is seriously off the charts and its hitting hard not cocaine so meth comes from where mainly? Corona anyone? Just saying theory sometimes helps solve some shit people should listen more to those you feel are crazy or on drugs they are heighten in some of their senses thatyour not. So maybe just maybe the low lifes as you call and treat them just might help find a cure. Play with it!!

  3. I do feel some heavyness in nose chambers without any mucous and a bit sour throat and little fiver

  4. Since having Covid-19, and fully recovered from it, I have an interesting phenomenon that occurs when I am in known Covid-19 hot spots, or around people that are known to be infected and symptomatic.
    I start sneezing uncontrollably for about 3 to 5 minutes, with substantial mucus discharge. This goes away in about 5 to 15 minutes whether leaving the infected person’s space or when in public, once I change locations by 500 to 1000 feet.
    These symptoms only occur in hot spots and in contact with infected people. I have never experienced a reinfection, or resurgence with the Covid-19 for over 4.5 monthsy and have been in close contact with infected persons from 3 to 5 times per week for 3.5 months. Just the sneezing uncontrollably has presented while in their presence.
    Feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance. I feel this is a significant result of having Covid-19, being recovered from it, and possibly a defensive immune system response from being exposed to the virus again.

  5. I had Covid 19 in March. My biggest symptoms were loss of taste and smell and a prolonged fever. Another odd thing is my left nostril will become very warm for a little bit then go away. This happens on and off throughout the day. It started with the virus and still continues. Other than that I feel fine.

  6. Sometimes I can smell and taste other times I cannot also my nasal passage is blocked would this be covid 19

  7. I still have taste and I can still smell but one side of my nose is blocked and I do have mucus .

  8. thank you om Monday I took a test and today Wednesday I’m told its positive however my sinus has being active. I’m not feeling any of the other symptoms now I understand thank you again

  9. I tested positive last week and the main symptom I am having is a burning in my nostrils! I do have a loss of some taste and smell. Kinda comes and goes. I had a low grade fever and chills for about 12 hrs and went away. Then 3 days later horrible sinus congestion. Tested positive after 3 days of that. Congestion gone but now the burning! Ugh

  10. I am keen to understand long term nasal problems, post coronavirus. Having had Covid in January when in Thailand, I am left with a constant excessive mucus and unable to blow my nose. Any information welcome!

  11. I have been positive with covid since july 7th i have been trying different vitamins as ive read about now august 11th im starting to have stomach issues and my head and ears are clogged is it safe to say the worst part is over im terrified please let me know also having burning muscles and spasms will i ever test negative as long as im feeling like this im scheduled to retest next week any way i may test negative if i still feel l ike this

  12. I had covid19 in March and it’s now August as my sinuses are always blocked I can feel it cracking and moving about and my taste has never been back to normal, I’ve used saline nasal sprays, otc nasal sprays and one prescribed by my GP – I also have had ear pain and gluey substance. I also getting lots of headaches too don’t really know what to do as all I get from my gp is nasal spray and they doesn’t work. I have also tried congestion tablets – nothing is working – any suggestions please as I was hoping it would be ok by now

  13. I had covid19 in March and it’s now August as my sinuses are always blocked I can feel it cracking and moving about and my taste has never been back to normal, I’ve used saline nasal sprays, otc nasal sprays and one prescribed by my GP – I also have had ear pain and gluey substance. I also getting lots of headaches too don’t really know what to do as all I get from my gp is nasal spray and they doesn’t work.

  14. Hello my name is Joel Moody and i have tested positive for COVID-19
    I wanted to repot that I believe i came exposed to the virus after picking up a
    loaner car from a local dealership here in Virginia. I am saying all of this to
    say that by the time I got home 35 minutes away I felt sick. From that point on
    I experience the mild symptoms of COVID, It wasn’t until four days later that
    i lost my sense of smell. I was tested and it came back positive. My question is
    this happened to me quite rapidly and I was wondering about this 2-14 day wait
    before symptoms starts, it seems to me that it is mutating and affecting you a lot
    quicker.
    Thanks,
    Joel MoodySr.

  15. This article is very interesting. I never even thought about the nasal cavity being impacted as the initial contact. 5 months out from my initial + test, and I am still having unilateral sinus inflammation without infection. Also having left-sided TMJ symptoms. Actually, all of my inflammation issues are unilateral at this point.

    All of this is so puzzling. Thank you for this article.

  16. I caught Covid in February after going on a cruise to the Bahamas. The initial symptoms was burning nasal, deep breath not fulfilling and bilateral bicep pain. The bilateral bicep pain has never gone away and I ran into another person that also has the bicep pain after being positive for Covid.
    On September 9 I started experiencing the burning in nasal again with Delirium. From February to now I’ve had bouts of Diarrhea and once a period of the breathing issues. I saw the doctor who found the HIV virus in 1983 in an interview in March and he said this virus appears to have been caused by someone testing the HIV virus on bats because of the similarity between Covid and HIV. He said he thinks once you get the virus you will never get rid if it because the body can’t develop immunities to a virus that doesn’t occur naturally in nature. He also believes the virus will just go dormant at times and you will experience a variety of different symptoms and this is what I’ve experienced since February.

  17. My wife and I both had flu like symptoms and tested positive for Covid 7 days ago. Symptoms were very mild. We took MAIZ therapy which contains four drugs: Microdacyn, Azithromycin, Ivermectin and Zinc. The reason for my message is that we have no more symptoms but both have what feels like a sinus infection. Very little drainage but pressure that leads to headache. We never lost our smell. Thought you might find interesting.

  18. Thanks for the information.. I have had Covid for about 10 days now .. I have no taste or smell .. and no appetite.. I usually use sweet cream in my coffee but have been drinking it black because I can’t taste it .. I sm not really hungry either.. I feel pretty could but when I blow my nose it burns .. I have an appointment to retest tomorrow.. Saturday.. is it too soon .. I want to go back to work.!!
    Thankyou

  19. I wonder if anyone could answer this, I lost my sense of taste and smell nov 20 completely. While I did have a stuffy nose at first now my nose is clear but I get weird sensations like getting pool water up there. Like a chlorine burning sensation. Might this indicate my sense of smell returning?

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