Prevention & Recovery

7 essential facts about your nose

Photography by Geneviève Caron Image by: Photography by Geneviève Caron Author: Canadian Living

Prevention & Recovery

7 essential facts about your nose

1. It’s a bodyguard. “The nose has an important role in trying to protect the lungs,” says Dr. Witterick. The nose hairs and mucus in your nasal membrane filter out fine particles such as dust and other allergens before they reach your lungs.

2. It affects taste.Your olfactory nerves are linked to your taste nerves through neural connections in the brain, but exactly how they work together is still a mystery to researchers. Some studies have shown that people who lose their sense of smell have a reduced sense of taste, but that isn’t the case for everyone.

3. It’s a pathway to your brain. The veins in and around the nose are different than those in the rest of your body, says Dr. Witterick. Normally, veins have valves that open and close to help prevent bacteria or foreign substances from travelling through. But the veins around the nose don’t have those filters, which means that if you get a serious infection nearby, it has a direct route to the brain. While rare, this can lead to meningitis or a brain abscess, so be mindful of any severe symptoms when you have a nose or eye infection.

4. It’s a diagnostic tool for disease. In the future, science may be able to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia by examining the nerve fibres in your nose. Researchers are looking at the cellular properties of biopsied nasal tissues from patients who may be affected to identify markers specific to these diseases, which can expedite diagnoses and improve access to treatment.

5. One litre: Thats how much mucus your nose and sinuses produce every day. (Most of it goes down the back of your throat and is swallowed.)

6. Most acute sinusitis is caused by the same viruses that cause the common cold. Acute sinusitis is the second most common infectious disease seen by GPs.

7. Use a daily saline nasal rinse if you have allergies or sinusitis, says Dr. Ian Witterick, otolaryngologist- in-chief at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. It helps flush out thick mucus, reducing inflammation. New guidelines in Canada advocate that doctors wait at least seven days before prescribing antibiotics for acute sinusitis, but in the meantime, sufferers can talk to their doctors about using topical nasal steroids to reduce swelling or whether flushing the sinuses with a neti pot might help.

Want to know how many times you blink a day? Check out these seven cool facts about your eyes.

This content is vetted by medical experts

This story was originally titled "The Nose" in the January 2015 issue.

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Prevention & Recovery

7 essential facts about your nose