Nasal Rinsing and its Effects on Early Symptoms of COVID-19

By Stephen Chandler, MD |18 NOV 2020|

Loss of Sense Of Smell During an Active Covid Infection

What is Anosmia?

Temporary loss of smell, or anosmia, is the main neurological symptom and one of the earliest and most commonly reported indicators of COVID-19 infection. Studies suggest it better predicts the disease than other well-known symptoms such as fever and cough. The underlying mechanisms for loss of smell in patients with COVID-19 are currently under intense investigation.

What Cells Are Vulnerable to Sars-CoV-2?

Recently, researchers have identified olfactory cell types in the upper nasal cavity most vulnerable to infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

Interestingly, sensory neurons that detect and transmit the sense of smell to the brain do not appear to be among vulnerable cell types. Olfactory sensory neurons do not express the gene that encodes the ACE2 receptor protein, which SARS-CoV-2 uses to enter human cells. As it turns out, ACE2 is expressed in cells that provide metabolic and structural support to olfactory sensory neurons, as well as certain populations of stem cells and blood vessel cells.

Researcher suggests that two specific cell types in the olfactory epithelium expressed ACE2 at similar levels to what has been observed in cells of the lower respiratory tract, the most common targets of SARS-CoV-2, suggesting a vulnerability to infection.

The vulnerable cells include sustentacular cells, which wrap around sensory neurons and are thought to provide structural and metabolic support, and basal cells, which act as stem cells that regenerate the olfactory epithelium after damage.

It seems very likely that infection of non-neuronal cell types may be responsible for the change in the sense of smell experienced by COVID-19 patients and that this knowledge may assist in the development of effective therapeutic strategies.

Will I Experience Permanent Loss of Smell?

If this data is corroborated, SARS-CoV-2 infection is unlikely to cause permanent damage to olfactory neural circuits and lead to long-term or persistent anosmia.

COVID-19 patients typically recover their sense of smell over the course of weeks—much faster than the months it can take to recover from anosmia caused by a subset of viral infections known to directly damage olfactory sensory neurons.

Daily Nasal Rinsing Helps with Symptoms of Nasal Irritation

Current studies are underway to assess the effectiveness of nasal rinse combined with medication to help patients recover their lost sense of smell more quickly. In my practice, I strongly advocate daily nasal rinsing to alleviate symptoms of nasal stuffiness, allergy irritation, and to maintain good daily nasal passage health.

CompleteRinse was also designed to work with compounding pharmacies to add medications to your rinse solution.

Dr. Stephen Chandler is a practicing Otolaryngologist in Montgomery, Alabama and owner of Sandler Scientific, LLC makers of Complete Rinse ®.

To schedule a visit with Dr. Chandler call 334-834-7221 Learn more at