Alterations in smell or taste are thought to be present in about 80% of COVID-19 cases. This could be linked to viral entry into ACE-2 bearing epithelial cells, including the upper part of the nasal cavity and olfactory epithelium. The goblet cells found scattered among the respiratory epithelia are the viral targets since they express ACE2. The breakdown of the mucin barrier by the action of the virus on the goblet cells could also contribute to the anosmia/hyposmia, since the odorant molecules may probably stick to their receptors with the help of the mucus. Mucus reduction could cause strange sensations in the nasal cavity.
In the study, researchers explored the nasal symptoms of 35 patients. They found that almost 70% had nasal symptoms. Over 60% felt an abnormal dryness of the nose versus 15% in control. Over 50% of patients said they felt as if a strong nasal wash had been administered, while only one in the control group reported this sensation. The nasal symptoms mostly occurred in the same period as the alteration in smell and taste. The researchers conclude that the presence of nasal sensations especially nasal dryness should be taken into account for both diagnostic and social distancing purposes.
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