Bacteria in the brain: scratching your nose can make you sick – Health

If you pick your nose, you risk introducing bacteria that goes directly to the brain and can promote Alzheimer’s disease.

New research suggests that nose picking may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Bacteria can enter the brain through the olfactory nerve in the nose and create markers that “are a telltale sign of Alzheimer’s disease,” say researchers from Australia’s Griffith University.

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Chlamydia pneumoniae

Their study, published in “Scientific Reports,” observed that the bacterium Chlamydia pneumoniae — a germ associated with respiratory infections, including pneumonia — uses the olfactory nerve as an “invasion pathway into the central nervous system.” The cells in the brain then responded to the attack by depositing the beta amyloid protein, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

“We are the first to show that Chlamydia pneumoniae can go directly through the nose into the brain, where it can trigger pathologies that look like Alzheimer’s disease,” said Professor James St. John, co-author of the study and lead Clem. Jones Center for Neurobiology and Stem Cell Research, in a press release. Although the study was conducted on mice, St. John said that “evidence can be scary even for people”.

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highway to the brain

According to scientists, the olfactory nerve serves as a highway for bacteria to enter the brain as it bypasses the blood-brain barrier. In their next research phase, they want to prove that this pathway also exists in humans. “We need to do this study in humans and confirm whether the same pathway works in the same way. This is research that has been proposed by many but has not yet been completed,” said St. John. “What we do know is that these bacteria are also found in humans, but we haven’t figured out how they get there.”

Loss of smell as a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease

St. John and his team have suggested that loss of smell may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, and suggest smell testing for people over 60 as an early warning system. “Once you’re over 65, the risk factor goes up significantly, but we’re also looking at other causes because it’s not just age, it’s environmental exposure. And we think bacteria and viruses are key.”

The professor also gave some valuable tips on how to protect yourself from the neurological damage caused by picking your nose. “Scratching your nose and pulling nose hairs is not a good idea. . . . We don’t want to damage the inside of our nose, and picking and picking can do that. Damage to the nasal mucosa allows more bacteria to enter the brain.”

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