COVID-19 Symptom: Nose
Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team
- Nose symptoms COVID-19 causes include a loss or change in the sense of smell, a runny or stuffy nose, a burning sensation, and a bloody nose.
- The nose is particularly vulnerable to inflammation caused by the virus because it has many ACE2 receptors, which the virus uses to enter cells.
- Changes to your sense of smell are one of the most frequently reported symptoms of COVID-19, with many people experiencing a complete or partial loss of smell.
- Nasal symptoms with COVID-19 usually go away on their own within days to a few weeks, but there’s a possibility that some symptoms, such as a reduced sense of smell, may persist long after the virus clears.
There are several nose symptoms that COVID-19 can cause. A loss or change in your sense of smell has been a well-documented symptom, but COVID-19 can also cause a variety of other uncomfortable nose symptoms, such as a runny, stuffy, or bloody nose, and even changes to your sense of smell. Many of the nose symptoms COVID-19 causes can easily be mistaken for signs of other common conditions such as the common cold, allergies, or the flu. Therefore it’s essential to get tested to be sure what is causing the issues with your nose.
Causes of COVID-19 nose symptoms
The nose is a primary entry point for the coronavirus due to the high number of ACE2 receptors on its inner lining. ACE2 receptors are proteins that exist on the surface of various cells throughout the body, including the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and blood vessels. These receptors play a role in regulating cellular functions through biochemical processes.
The coronavirus also has a protein on its surface that can bind to ACE2 receptors, allowing it to enter cells and disrupt normal cellular processes. Depending on where the virus binds to ACE2 receptors in the body, this can cause various problems. 1
Given that the coronavirus primarily enters the body through the airway, combined with the high concentration of ACE2 receptors in the nose, the nose is particularly susceptible to inflammation caused by the virus. The nose and nasopharynx, the area at the back of the nose connected to the respiratory system, typically have the highest viral load of COVID-19. 2
Possible symptoms of the nose with COVID
Changes to your sense of smell. A change in smell is one of the most commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19. Disturbances in the sense of smell (hyposmia) may manifest as distorted or different than they really are (parosmia) or can smell unpleasant (cacosmia) sensations, or even hallucinations (phantosmia), like experiencing a burning smell that isn’t there. These changes in smell often go together with changes in taste or other more general COVID-19 symptoms. 5
Runny and stuffy nose. A runny nose is also a common symptom caused by COVID-19, with even a higher incidence for the Omicron variant, which mainly causes symptoms in the upper respiratory tract. Once the coronavirus enters the cells of the nose and sinuses, the immune system reacts. The cells become inflamed, creating a clear mucus that traps the virus and flushes it out of the body. With COVID-19, you can have yellow mucus from the nose and a clear runny nose. 6 7
A bloody nose. The inflammation that COVID-19 causes in the cells that are present in the nose can also increase the risk of developing a bloody nose. Especially severe cases of COVID-19 could put you at a higher risk of having nosebleeds. Further studies are required to confirm the relationship between the coronavirus and nosebleeds. 8 9
A dry or burning sensation in the nose. A burning sensation in the nose or a dry nose with COVID-19 is possible, although it’s not frequently reported. These symptoms are very likely to occur together with other nasal symptoms, such as a loss or change in smell. Some people also have a nose that feels dry due to the extended use of masks or medication against other nasal symptoms of COVID-19. 10
How long do nasal symptoms with COVID-19 last?
Usually, nasal symptoms are amongst the first symptoms you may experience if you’ve been infected with the coronavirus. In most cases, COVID nose symptoms go away on their own once the infection clears, which could be days to a few weeks. Even though most COVID-19 nose symptoms go away on their own, there’s a possibility that some symptoms persist after the initial infection clears. Specifically, changes in smell may linger on for months after your COVID-19 infection.
What else can cause nasal symptoms besides COVID-19?
COVID-19 nose symptoms can be similar to other viral infections or allergies.
- An infection with a virus, such as a virus that causes the common cold or influenza
- An infection of the sinuses
- Allergies (here is more info about Covid Symptoms Vs Allergies)
- Nasal polyps (growths in your nose)
- Head injury
- Alzheimer’s disease (older adults)
- Radiation therapy of the head and neck
- The common cold
- Changes in temperature or humidity
- Medicines such as nasal sprays, aspirin, ibuprofen, ACE inhibitors, and beta blockers
- Hormone changes
- Irritating substances in the air, such as smoke, perfumes, and paint fumes
- Alcohol and spicy food
A bloody nose may be due to COVID-19, but it may also be caused by: 16
- Picking your nose or injury
- Blowing your nose too hard
- Changes in temperature and air
- High blood pressure
- Conditions of the blood vessels
- Medicines such as warfarin
How can symptoms of the nose due to COVID-19 be treated?
Most nasal symptoms caused by COVID do not need specific treatment, as they should clear on their own. However, you can do a few things to relieve your symptoms, depending on which symptoms you have.
For a runny or stuffy nose, you can use:
- Nasal sprays
- Salt water rinse
It's vital only to use an adequate amount of nasal spray, as excess use may cause a runny or congested nose and cause damage to the mucous membranes of the nose. You can consult your general practitioner for prescription nasal sprays if your symptoms do not improve.
If you’re experiencing a nosebleed, then you do the following:
- Sit down
- Lean forward with your head tilted forward
- Press your nose right above your nostrils for about 10 to 15 minutes
- Breathe through your mouth
When your nose has stopped bleeding, try not to pick or blow your nose, avoid extreme temperature changes, and do not do any demanding exercise for the rest of the day.
If your nose doesn’t stop bleeding or you are losing a lot of blood, you should seek emergency medical care.
For persistent loss of smell after COVID-19, there are a few things you can do to help reset your nose:
- Smell training. This involves exposing yourself to different smells and trying to identify them. This can help retrain the brain to recognize and differentiate between different smells.
- Nasal irrigation. Using a saline solution to rinse the nasal passages can help clear any blockages or inflammation and improve the sense of smell.
- Steam inhalation. Inhaling steam from hot water or a humidifier can help open the nasal passages and improve airflow.
If you are experiencing persistent or severe loss of smell, you should seek medical advice from your doctor. They may recommend additional treatments or therapies to help improve your symptoms.
The nose is one of the parts of our body most prone to experience symptoms of an infection with the coronavirus due to its high presence of ACE2 receptors. The most frequent nasal symptom caused by the coronavirus is a loss or change in your perception of smell. Besides that, you can also experience a runny nose, a blocked nose, or in some cases, a bloody nose. These symptoms usually go away on their own once the infection has cleared.
Q: What does COVID-19 do to your nose?
A: COVID-19 can enter the body through the nose, mouth, or eyes, and then it binds to the ACE2 receptors on the surface of the cells lining the nasal cavity. This binding can cause inflammation in the nasal passages, leading to a range of nasal symptoms, such as a runny or stuffy nose, loss of smell, and sneezing.
Q: What are some COVID-19 nose symptoms?
A: The most common nasal symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, loss of smell (anosmia) or distorted sense of smell (parosmia), and sneezing. Other less common symptoms may include postnasal drip, itchy or watery eyes, and sore throat.
Q: How do you reset your nose after COVID-19?
A: You can try smell training, nasal irrigation, and steam inhalation to reset your nose after COVID-19. Smell training involves exposing yourself to different smells to retrain the brain. Nasal irrigation and steam inhalation can help clear blockages and improve the sense of smell. Seek medical advice if you are experiencing persistent or severe loss of smell.
Q: When does COVID-19 nose go away?
A: The duration of COVID-19 nose symptoms can vary depending on the individual and the severity of the illness. In some cases, the symptoms can last for several weeks or even months after the initial infection. However, in most cases, the symptoms improve within a few days to a week as the body's immune system fights off the virus.
Q: Can COVID-19 cause nasal congestion?
A: Yes, COVID-19 can cause nasal congestion, a common symptom of the illness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 5% of people with COVID-19 experience nasal congestion. However, other studies have reported higher rates of nasal congestion, with some suggesting that it may be present in up to 20-30% of cases.