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Local doctors say nose bacteria could play role in severity of COVID

Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 7:20 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We know so much more about the virus than we did last year but some aspects are still a mystery.

Augusta University experts are working to understand why some people with COVID are really sick while others aren’t. While COVID can enter your body in many different ways, AU’s research shows our nose could play a huge role in determining the severity of COVID infections.

Your nose has both good bacteria and bad bacteria, but researchers at AU wanted to know if the bacteria that lives in your nose could play a role in how sick you would get if infected with COVID.

“We did this study in older patients because older patients are more vulnerable to this disease,” said Dr. Sadanand Fulzele, associate professor at Au’s Medical College of Georgia.

Researchers at AU studied age groups 49 to 78. A healthy group of people that were not infected, an infected group that had no symptoms, and an infected group with mild or severe symptoms.

“We started this project to understand why some individuals are severely affected by COVID-19,” he said. “After analyzing all these patients we found that the patients with symptoms have a low microbiome.”

He says when you’re unhealthy or have an infection most of the good bacteria in your nose gets wiped out by the bad bacteria. During their study, they found that most of the patients that were really sick had low microbiomes or low variations of bacteria in their nose — leaving them with two conclusions.

“Maybe low microbiome increases the change of COVID-19 infections and symptoms or second results maybe COVID-19 causes of the microbiome in the nasal cavity,” he said.

He says right now they’re working ahead and looking into different strategies to boost immune responses in the upper respiratory tract.

“We can develop some kind of probiotic spray that can increase the upper respiratory tract human response and can fight against the viral infection,” he said.

He says the earlier they start the treatment strategies the more they can prevent hospitalizations.

“We can save many lives,” he said.

Right now AU says they’re going to continue to research and study the variation of bacteria and COVID. They say they’re hoping to expand their research even more using different age groups.

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