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Bacteria in the nose determine how severe a cold is
Doctors have found out why some people have worse colds, flu and sore throats. How bad a cold affects and how long it lasts depends on which bacteria live in your nose.
The University of Virginia researchers found that bacteria in our nose affect how bad a cold or flu will be. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal “Scientific Reports”.
Staphylococci aggravate the common cold
When people have more staphylococci in their noses, this leads to more severe cold symptoms than when people have few of these bacteria in their noses, the doctors say. This effect occurs even though the colds of those affected are caused by exactly the same virus strains, the authors of the study add. In the future, the results of the investigation could lead to the prescription of special antibiotics to clean the nose of bacteria and thus to stop a cold or flu.
Adults get an average of two to three colds a year
It was surprising to find out how the microbiome in the nose can affect how severely people are affected by a cold, explains study author Professor Ronald Turner from the University of Virginia. The so-called background microbiome in the nose affects how those affected react when they become infected with a virus. The average adult gets two to three colds a year, while the average child can get six to eight, the experts say.
The nose is home to many different types of bacteria
Our bodies may not look like a battlefield, but at the microscopic level there is a battle for space and food between rival species of bacteria, the scientists explain. Staphylococcus aureus occurs in the noses of three in ten people, along with other types of bacteria.
What factors affect the bacteria in your nose?
There could be an underlying host trait that causes a person to get more staph, which would result in a worse cold, Professor Turner suspects. This could be due to genetic factors or environmental factors such as pollution or pollen or a combination of both factors. An interaction between the host, the environment and the pathogen presumably determines how a disease proceeds and how severe it is, adds the expert.
152 subjects took part in the study
152 subjects were examined before and after a cold for the study. This investigation ruled out the possibility that the virus or the resulting disease changed the composition of the microbiome. The participants then received a probiotic drink with healthy bacteria to determine whether the drink relieved symptoms and changed the bacteria in the nose or stomach. However, this was not the case. Prof. Turner, who has been researching colds for decades, is skeptical whether a nasal spray would have more effect than such a probiotic drink. According to the expert, however, it would be interesting to see how antibiotics would work. (as)