Digging your nose is a curious habit. Some people pick their nose out of boredom or nervousness. However, according to a new study, this habit could put you at a risk of developing Alzheimer's and dementia. According to a team of researchers at Griffith University, Australia, they demonstrated that a bacteria can travel through the olfactory nerve in the nose and into the brain in mice, where it creates markers that are a revealing sign of Alzheimer's disease.
The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, observed that a bacteria called Chlamydia pneumoniae, which can infect humans and cause pneumonia, has also been discovered in the majority of human brains affected by late-onset dementia.
According to the research, it used the nerve extending between the nasal cavity and the brain as an invasion path to invade the central nervous system. The cells in the brain then responded by depositing amyloid beta protein which is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.
This study was conducted on mice. Professor James St John, Head of the Clem Jones Centre for Neurobiology and Stem Cell Research, said in a release, "We saw this happen in a mouse model, and the evidence is potentially scary for humans as well."
The research adds that the olfactory nerve is exposed to air and offers a short pathway to the brain. It is the route that viruses and bacteria have sniffed out as an easy one into the brain. Their next phase of research, they said, is aimed at proving the same pathway exists in humans.
"We need to do this study in humans and confirm whether the same pathway operates in the same way. It's research that has been proposed by many people, but not yet completed," Professor St John continued.
"Picking your nose and plucking the hairs from your nose are not a good idea," he said.
The professor added that if one damages the lining of their nose, then the risk of bacteria going up in your brain can be increased.
The research team noted that the loss of smell can be treated as an early sign of Alzheimer's. The professor also suggested smell tests for those aged 60 and above as an early detector of the disease.