Super Tasters Super Immune to Sinusitis
A fascinating study out of the University of Pennsylvania this week revealed something unusual: super tasters, or people whose sense of taste and smell are enhanced to an extraordinary degree, may also be less prone than the rest of us to sinus infections.
The reason may surprise you: super tasters can actually “taste” invading bacteria far earlier than regular people. Or at least, their noses can, by detecting the chemical signatures of unwanted intruders. When receptors in the nose are triggered by trace amounts of these bacteria, a cascade of immune responses is activated, helping to flush out the offending pathogens and reduce the incidence of infection.
In the laboratory, [researchers] exposed the [tissue] samples to a chemical produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that’s a common cause of sinus infections.
[. . .]
When the supertasters’ receptors were exposed to the bacterial chemical, they did two things that Cohen thinks show they’re helping fend off the bacteria: They activated cilia, tiny hairs that sweep germs out of the nose, and increased production of nitric oxide, which kills bacteria.
It is a provocative finding, and one which might suggest further avenues to help us build up immunity to some of the nastier bugs out there these days.
In the meantime: if you are a mere mortal and have experienced sinus symptoms lasting longer than a few weeks, do the wise thing and see your ENT. Don’t let the smell of fear keep you away from good care.