Functions of the Nose

Your nose is comprised of bone and cartilage, separated into two symmetrical hollow nostrils. Open sinus spaces sit in your forehead, at the top of your nostrils. As part of the respiratory system, the nose serves several functions.

Medical illustration of the nose and sinus cavity (Image: leonello/iStock/Getty Images)


Woman breathing in fresh mountain air during the winter (Image: diego cervo/iStock/Getty Images)

Air flows in and out during normal breathing. The inner lining of the nose has many blood vessels at the surface. Blood flowing through your nose warms the air as your breathe in. Your nose also humidifies the air before it gets to your lungs.


Young woman sneezing (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

The nose has many small hairs inside the nostrils. These hairs act as a filter, removing dirt and particles before the air enters the lungs. Sneezing and nose blowing also help remove the particles out of your body.


Young woman smelling a wildflower (Image: Eduard Titov/iStock/Getty Images)

Smell is one of the most important functions of the nose. The sense of smell is not completely understood. Smell is a key component of memory, physical attraction and emotional connections. The olfactory nerves are cranial nerves that allow communication between your nose and brain. Conditions, such as a cold, will decrease your sense of smell. Some people suffer from a condition called anosmia, which is the inability to smell.


Smelling the aroma of coffee (Image: Astarot/iStock/Getty Images)

Although taste is a completely separate sense than smell, the nose plays a role in the way the tongue perceives taste. The aroma of the food plays a role in the taste. Individuals with a congested nose report a decreased sense of taste.


Friends singing at karaoke (Image: XiXinXing/iStock/Getty Images)

Air resonating in your nose affects the sound of your voice. The shape of your septum also plays a role in the sound of your voice. As a result, surgery on your nose may also alter the sound of your voice.

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