The nostrils are two openings in the nose. The septum is a wall that separates the nostrils from the nasal passages (say: SEP-tum). Your septum is made up of very small bone fragments that are located deep within your nose, close to your skull.
The septum, which is located closer to the tip of your nose, is made of cartilage (say: KAR-tel-ij), a flexible substance that is firmer than skin or muscle. It’s not as stiff as bone, and you can feel how wiggly it is if you press on the tip of your nose.
The nasal cavity is a void behind your nose in the middle of your face. The back of the throat is where it binds. The palate separates the nasal cavity from the inside of your mouth (roof of your mouth).
Air enters the nasal passages and flows through your nasal cavity as you inhale through your nostrils. The air then travels to the lungs through the trachea, which is located at the back of your throat.
Your nose is a two-way street as well. The nose is the keyway for air to escape your body as you exhale the old air from your lungs. However, the nose is more than just an airway. Before the air reaches the lungs, the nose warms, moistens, and filters it.
The mucous membrane is a thin, moist layer of tissue that lines the inside of your nose. This membrane warms and moistens the air. Mucus is produced by the mucous membrane, which is the sticky stuff in your nose that you might call snot. Dust, germs and other small particles that could irritate the lungs are captured by mucus. Hairs that can trap large particles such as soil or pollen can also be found within your nose.
You can possibly guess what happens next if anything is stuck inside. You make a sneeze. Sneezes will send those unwanted particles hurtling out of your nose at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour!
And tiny hairs called cilia (say: SILL-ee-uh) can be seen only under a microscope further back in your nose. To drive mucus out of the sinuses and back of the nose, the cilia move back and forth. Cilia can also be found lining the airways, where they assist in the removal of mucus from the lungs.
You can create scents of what’s going on in the world around you through your nose. The nose, like your eyes and ears, gives you insight by seeing and listening. It also helps you find out what’s going on by smelling. It accomplishes this with the assistance of numerous components located deep inside your nasal cavity and head.
The olfactory epithelium is located on the roof of the nasal cavity (the space behind your nose). Olfactory is a fancy term that refers to the sense of smell. Special receptors in the olfactory epithelium are sensitive to odor molecules that pass through the air.
The number of receptors in your nose is estimated to be about 10 million! There are hundreds of different types of odor receptors, each of which can detect different odor molecules. An odor can activate many different types of receptors, according to research. The brain decodes the mixture of receptors to identify any of the 10,000 distinct smells.
Signals pass down the olfactory nerve to the olfactory bulb when scent receptors are activated. The olfactory bulb is located just above the nasal cavity, beneath the front of the brain. Signals from the olfactory bulb are sent to other areas of the brain, where they are perceived as a scent you might remember, such as freshly baked apple pie. Yummy!
Smell identification is your brain’s way of informing you about your surroundings. Have you ever noticed the scent of toast burning? Your brain perceived the scent as an issue in a moment, and you knew you needed to check on your toast.
You’ve learned to associate a certain smell with burning, and your brain now remembers it, allowing you to identify it. Your sense of smell will also assist you in staying healthy. It may, for example, warn you not to eat something that smells bad or assist you in detecting smoke before a fire occurs.