Protecting the Nose

June 22, 2020

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Anchor lead: Could rinsing the nose and other strategies stave off Sars-CoV2 infection? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Target tissue for Sars-CoV2 may be what’s called the olfactory epithelium in the upper part of the nose, the same tissue that’s responsible for our sense of smell. Andrew Lane, director of rhinology and sinus surgery at Johns Hopkins, says the fact that people lose their sense of smell with this virus points to this area.

Lane: Most of the air you breath comes in through your nose. It’s the common portal for viral infections. The virus infects the lining cells of the nose and the whole nasal cavity, causing a lot of inflammation which blocks the breathing and makes you make mucus. The fact that this virus doesn’t seem to cause these symptoms would make you think that maybe the virus is bypassing the part of the nose that’s responsible for the breathing passages and works its way up deeper into the nose where the olfactory- the sense of smell tissue it, that tissue has slightly different types of cells in it, cells that are very specialized for the olfactory system.  :30

Lane says protective strategies like rinsing the nose could potentially be helpful in dislodging the virus from this tissue and either stopping infection or dramatically reducing the number of viral particles. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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