Believe it or not, there are trillions of living organisms in, and all over, your body. So often, you hear about the gut microbiome — or the community of bacteria living in your gut. But did you also know there are colonies of bacteria living inside your nose?
And the type of bacteria that settles inside your nostrils might actually determine the type and severity of the common cold symptoms you may experience if you’re coming down with something.
For instance, recent research shows if you’ve got a family of Staphylococcus bacteria deciding to camp out in your nose, you may suffer more severe nasal symptoms than cold sufferers who have less Staphylococcus.1
According to this new research, the bacteria found in the noses of the study’s participants could be divided into various patterns of nasal microbiomes — six to be exact. While the microbiomes were associated with how severe certain signs and symptoms might be, they were also associated with each participant’s viral load — meaning how much cold virus existed inside each body.
And interestingly enough, the bacterial pattern in your nose could have a real effect on the way your body experiences and reacts to a given virus.
What are the Most Frequent Symptoms of the Common Cold?
Of course, there are several different kinds of symptoms caused by the common cold — which is basically just an infection of your upper airways.
Typically, you’ll experience:
- A runny nose
- A sore throat
- Mild fever
- Aches in your joints2
Sometimes, common cold signs and symptoms are even mistaken for flu symptoms. But the flu is caused by a completely different virus. The incubation period of a cold is the time between infection and the first sign of symptoms. Now, incubation periods are studied a great deal, because this information can be pretty useful when it comes to controlling symptoms. But incubation periods do vary depending on the type of infection.3
So, Do the Bacteria in Your Nose Cause Common Colds?
Well, no. The microorganisms in your nose are not actually causing your cold — that comes from a common cold virus. And the jury is still out on whether or not the bacteria in your nostrils are even responsible for variations in symptom severity.
But there is an association. You see, this new research may point more toward the idea that there’s some base trait that makes having staph in your nose more likely. And this may also mean your chances of getting a common cold, and suffering more severe symptoms, is more likely.
For instance, your genetic makeup could actually have something to do with both of the following factors:
- The types of microorganisms in your nasal microbiome, and
- The way you react to the common cold virus.
Of course, there could also be other factors, like the environment, that contribute to the severity of your cold symptoms, and to the types of bacteria in your nasal microbiome. Things like the plants in your region, pollution, or weather elements could potentially affect the above factors.
Now, in this particular study, scientists ran tests on the nasal microbiomes of approximately 150 volunteers, both before and after exposing them to the cold virus. In so doing, researchers were able to eliminate the possibility that the virus, or the cold it caused, was changing the composition of the microbiome greatly.4
In The End…
Experiencing a cold can be inconvenient, and it’s never pleasant, but as scientists dig in deeper to research, you can bet we’ll learn more about where the correlation between nasal bacteria and common cold symptoms begins and ends.
For now, if you notice signs of the common cold, it’s always good to check in with your healthcare professional.5