Coronavirus: Research discovers ‘a strange sensation in the nose’ could predict COVID-19

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Anosmia means the loss of smell – one of the NHS’s key indicators that you’ve been infected by SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the disease COVID-19). Here’s what the coronavirus research says.

The research team from the University of Barcelona confirmed one of the entry routes of SARS-CoV-2 is the “nasal epithelium”.

Aware that olfactory dysfunction (namely anosmia) is present in COVID-19 patients, they wanted to explore whether infected individuals had other nasal disturbances.

They assessed a group of 35 patients with COVID-19, and “a control group that matched in gender and in age”.

Utilising a survey, they asked the patients about the presence of nasal symptoms.

For example, patients could enlist “excessive dryness” or “a continual sensation of having had a ‘nasal douche'”.

The research team used a “cross-sectional, retrospective survey” whereby symptoms were assessed with “absence/presence responses”.

More than 68 percent of patients reported at least one nasal symptom in the study.

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The clinical group also experienced “a strange sensation in the nose” and excessive nasal dryness more often than the control group.

In addition, 52 percent of the clinical group reported a constant sensation of having had a strong nasal douche.

Only three percent of the control group (those without COVID-19) reported the same thing.

The researchers noted “nasal symptoms predominately co-occurred with anosmia or hyposmia”.

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Hyposmia is the reduced ability to smell; nasal symptoms also appeared alongside ageusia – the loss of taste.

Ageusia is another main symptom recognised by the NHS to indicate a COVID-19 infection.

Nasal symptoms were reported in tandem with hypogeusia too, which is the reduced ability to taste.

To simplify, nasal symptoms – such as “a strange sensation in the nose” – occurred alongside: anosmia, hyposmia, ageusia and hypogeusia.

These nasal disturbances “appeared principally before or during the other symptoms of COVID-19”. On average, the nasal symptoms lasted for 12 days.

The researchers concluded: “The presence of these nasal symptoms, and their early occurrence, could potentially facilitate early diagnosis of COVID-19.”

It must be noted that this body of work was published as a pre-print research paper.

This means the study is yet to be peer-reviewed, meaning various experts are yet to assess the research.

Once peer-reviewed, experts will share any concerns they may have with the assumptions, methods or conclusions in the study.

Only once these issues (if found) have been remedied will the research paper be formally published in a scholarly journal.

However, this process can be lengthy; this is why authors use the medRxiv service to make their research available as “preprints”.

This enables other scientists to see, discuss and comment on the findings immediately.

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