Odd Nose Facts You Need to Hear
My kids always got a big kick out of the old joke – “Why does your nose run, but your feet smell?” That memory got me thinking about some of the “nose” sayings that we use.
Something you’ve misplaced can be “right under your nose.” Or, don’t worry about it, “it’s no skin off my nose!” And, you certainly don’t want to “cut off your nose in spite of your face!”
Besides giving us clever quips, do you know that your nose is one of the most complex parts of your body? In fact, when you take a minute to add up all the critical functions your nose performs, it’s quite amazing.
Obviously, first and foremost, you breathe through your nose. You don’t even have to think about it. The autonomic nervous system regulates breathing along with blood pressure, digestion, heart rate and more.
Interestingly, when you were a baby, you breathed almost entirely through your nose. The unique structure of a newborn’s throat allows it to suckle and breathe at the same time without choking. Yet, as adults we can’t do that. To swallow we momentarily stop breathing!
Throughout your life your nose is constantly humidifying and cleaning air before it passes to your lungs. The process is fascinating! Three structures, called conchae, moisturize the air as it makes its way through a network of bones, vessels and tissue within the nasal passageway.
Next, we have the cleaners. Cilia are the tiny hair-like traps that catch any debris that you breathe in. These little snares grab everything from dust, pollen, smoke, bacteria and tiny bugs. You name it, your nose helps stop it from getting down into your lungs.
Do you know what happens to the trapped gunk? It sticks to the mucous in your nose and, after a while, gets pushed into your throat and swallowed. Doesn’t sound appetizing, that’s for sure. But, fortunately, our stomachs can handle the debris much better than our lungs.
Speaking of the stomach, does yours grumble when you catch a whiff of your favorite food? That’s because a juicy steak or crunchy apple just wouldn’t taste the same without your nose. In fact, smell plays a big part in the four primary tastes. You experience bitter, sour, sweet and salty, all thanks to your sense of smell.
Humans have about 12 million olfactory (smell) receptors in your nasal cavity. These cells do more than help you sniff out a good meal. They also alert you to possible dangers. We all know that smelling smoke means fire is near. If you notice a “rotten egg” odor in your home, it could mean there’s a gas leak. Call for help right away. Your nose may just save your life.
Lastly, you can’t talk about your nose without discussing your sinuses. The exact purpose of the sinuses is still a bit of a mystery. Some scientists think that these air-filled structures make your head lighter and, therefore, helped our ancestors make the move to upright creatures.
What we do know is that they act as shock absorbers in your head, protecting your brain and eyes. Plus, your sinuses work with your nose to help regulate the nitric oxide in your body and lungs. This partnership plays a big role in keeping your immune system healthy.
There are many interesting facts about your nose. Many of which we simply take for granted. I invite you to take a moment today to “stop and smell the roses.” You’ll be happy that you did.
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