Nasal microbiota helps in boosting immunity, tackling inflammation: Here are a few habits that help maintain it

The human body contains trillions of microbes on many of its surfaces and are present on the skin, oral cavity, gut and even on the nasal mucosa (inner lining of the nose).

Myupchar July 14, 2020 15:09:10 IST
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Nasal microbiota helps in boosting immunity, tackling inflammation: Here are a few habits that help maintain it

The human body contains trillions of microbes on many of its surfaces. These microbes are present on the skin, oral cavity, gut and even on the nasal mucosa (inner lining of the nose). The term normal flora is used to define all the microbes living on various surfaces of the body. Every surface has its own set of microbes that is different from what is found in other areas or in other people and the microbial communities also change with age.

The human microbiome (the genetic material of all the microbes in the human body) is a great source of genetic diversity in the human body.

The nasal microbiome refers to all the microbes present in the nose. Not much is known about them yet, however, it is suggested that microbes in the nasal cavity play an important role in the mucosal and systemic immunity.

Here is all you need to know about the nasal microbiome and why is it important to keep the normal flora intact.

Friends and foes of the nasal microbiome

The nasal microflora comprises a number of microbes that we get during birth -- from the vagina or from cesarean delivery and from various environmental factors like pollution, the people we live with and the area we live in. Some of the microbes that make up the nasal microbiome include Staphylococcus aureus, Propionibacterium spp, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Mycoplasma, Neisseria spp, and Haemophilus influenzae.

Some of the microbes in the nasal cavity are commensals (take nutrition or benefits from the human body without harming or benefiting it) or symbiotic (help and get help from the human body).

Microbes like Lactobacillus prevent harmful microbes from attaching themselves to the nasal mucosa. Hence, they help prevent infections of the upper respiratory tract and even allergic reactions.

However, a lot of commensals tend to be opportunistic pathogens. S. aureus, for example, is associated with chronic nasal sinusitis and severe chronic inflammation of the upper respiratory disease. Other opportunistic pathogens (microbes that take advantage of certain conditions to cause infection) in the nasal cavity can lead to conditions like asthma, otitis media, allergic rhinitis and acute respiratory tract infections.

This happens when there is a dysbiosis or imbalance in the microflora of the nose. Dysbiosis can occur due to health conditions, head trauma or even use of certain prophylactic antibiotics such as those before a sinus surgery.

Ways to maintain nasal microbiome

Experts suggest that one of the best ways to maintain nasal microbiome is to stop the overuse of antibiotic medications.

Saline irrigation like neti pots can help wash out some of the inflammatory markers and harmful antigens (substances against which our immune system makes antibodies) from the nasal cavity and reduce the risk of inflammation and infections of the upper respiratory tract. Make sure to keep the neti pots clean to reduce the risk of infections.

Probiotics are also suggested to be good for improving the microbiome of the body. Though it is more beneficial for the gut microbiota, it is suggested that some immune cells reach the airways when you consume probiotics. Nasal probiotics have also shown to help in controlling inflammation in preclinical studies. However, more research is needed to ascertain the safety and efficacy of probiotic administration through the nose.

Some other ways to avoid dysbiosis of the nasal flora include:

  • Washing your hands properly
  • Avoiding touching your face, especially your nose
  • Taking a healthy diet and maintaining adequate hydration 
  • Leading an active life with regular exercise

For more information, read our article on Probiotics.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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