Last Updated on January 5, 2023 by

Located centrally in your face, your nose is the primary organ in your respiratory and olfactory systems. It serves as an entry point for air to enter your body to facilitate respiration.

The nose filters the debris in the inhaled air, warms the air, and moistens it before permitting it to the lung way.

Your nose has many intricate parts. Each of them is important for its overall functioning.

How Vital Is Nose To Our Overall Wellbeing?

Your nose performs significant body operations.

  • It adds value to your aesthetic build-up.
  • Your lung function is dependent on your nasal structures and their functions.
  • The nose works synchronously with the larynx in your throat for speech function.
  • It acts as a channel for eliminating infectious debris from the lungs and airways as phlegm.
  • Nasal discharges are indicators to identify causes of respiratory illnesses.
  • Injuries to the brain are symptomatically recognized by nasal bleeding.
  • As your nose is connected to your ear, it equalizes the air pressure of the ear with that of the atmosphere and aids in your hearing ability.

Nasal Anatomy: Basic Parts Of The Nose

The geometrical shape of your nose is pyramidal in structure. It is classified into two sections. The essential nose parts are broadly classified as follows:

  • The external nose.
  • The internal nose (or nasal cavity).

External Nose

Your external nose has skeletal structures with their surface wrapped by the skin.

External Meatus: This is the comprehensive triangular-shaped projection in the center of your face.

Nasal Root: It is the depressed top part of the nose., located between the eyebrows. It is located superiorly and connects with your forehead.

Nasal Tip: Also called the apex, it is the part that is farthest from the plane of the face. It is the topmost region in the pyramidal structure. The openings of the nostrils are located here.

Dorsum: The border is round in shape and lies between the tip and root. The junction where the nose’s sides meet is the part between the root and apex.

Nostrils (pl. nares): These are the two apertures or openings that serve like orifices at the lower end of the nose, and are also called piriform. They lie inferior to the apex.

Nasal Bridge: It is the saddle-shaped area that includes the nasal root and lateral sides of the nose. The length of the nose is called the dorsum nasi.

Nasal Ridge: Also called the dorsum of the nose, it extends from the root to the nasal tip rendering the midline prominence of the nose.

Nasion: The midline point, located superiorly to the nasal root lying over the nasofrontal structure.

Ala (pl. Alae): Being the lower flared part of the nose, it extends on either side of the apex. This forms the lateral side of each naris. It is made up of cartilaginous tissue.

Internal Nose Or Nasal Cavity

The nasal cavity is the internal part of the nose. There are two cavities, each separated by a wall-like structure made of cartilaginous tissue called the septum.

These cavities are in the external nose and enveloped by the skull beside it. The cavities open out anteriorly towards the face through the two nares.

Each of the nasal cavity compartments has a roof, floor, and lateral and medial walls.

The nasal cavity has 12 bones in total. They are paired nasal, maxilla, palatine, and lacrimal bones and unpaired ethmoid, sphenoid, frontal, and vomer bones.

The ethmoid configuration forms the greater portion of the skeletal framework. It is formed by the roof and the walls of the nasal cavities. It also contains ethmoidal cells, which are one of the four paranasal sinuses.

The interior of the nose or internal nose is split into right and left cavities by the nasal septum. Each nasal cavity corresponds with the exterior through the naris or nostril and the nasopharynx through the posterior nasal aperture.

Each nasal cavity is divided into two parts – a small anteroinferior part lined by skin, called the vestibule. The skin contains sebaceous glands, hair follicles, and interlacing hair structures called vibrissae.

Its upper boundary, lined up on the lateral wall of the nasal cavity, is formed by limen nasi. Its medial wall is formed by mobile columella.

The large posterosuperior part lined by mucosa is called the nasal cavity proper. The nasal cavity proper envelopes four boundaries – the roof, the floor, the medial wall, and the lateral wall.

Sinuses: These are four parts of air-filled cavities. They are lined with mucous membranes. There are four types of sinuses. They are ethmoid, frontal, maxillary, and sphenoid sinuses.

Turbinates: These are tiny, spongy structures inside the nose. They clean, filter, and humidify the air entering the lungs through the nostrils.

Tissue Makeup In Different Parts Of The Nose

The skin wraps all the skeletal features of the external nose. In terms of tissue makeup, skeletally, the nasal framework is composed of the following:

  • Bony Tissue – Upper one-third.
  • Cartilaginous Tissue – Lower two-thirds.

Bony Framework

The root and bridge of the nose are made up of bony elements, which are the upper one-third of the external bone. In the upper frontal region, the nose is supported by two nasal bones which build the bridge of the nose. The two bones of the nasal area conjoin in the middle part of nose and the rest above the upper part of the frontal bone nasal process. They are held between the frontal processes of the maxillae. The bony part of the external nose ends in front and below, termed as piriform aperture.

Cartilaginous Framework

The cartilaginous system is formed by five principal cartilages (2 lateral + 1 median + 2 major alar cartilages) and multiple additional smaller ones.

Alar Cartilages: Major alar cartilage makes the apex of the nose, and minor alar cartilages make the ala nasi. The lateral processes of the septal cartilage make the dorsum of the nose. The nares are bound medially by the septal cartilage.

Septum: The nares are partitioned by the nasal septum and bound sideways by the ala nosi, also called wings of the nostrils. This gives support and shape to the outer part of the nose.

Nasal Bone: It is a small flat skull bone.

Nasal Physiology: More Facts On The Functions Of Parts

The nose aids in three primary functions. They are:

Respiration

The nose is the gateway to your respiratory system. This is the mechanism of breathing in the air (medically inspiration and commonly inhalation) and breathing out air (medically expiration and commonly exhalation). The role of the nose in respiration is critical in that it supplies and conditions the air let in by the nose.

The air coming into the nose is warmed and moisturized to maintain humidity, and then the particulate matter is filtered.

The nasal cavity or the nasal tunnel has a maze of passageways known as turbinates. These are present on the lateral walls of both cavities. Air flowing inside the nasal tunnel is constrained to pass through these passageways that are lined with moist mucosal structures.

When passing through this tunnel, the air is warmed and humidified by a vascular capillary bed underneath the surface. The amount of blood flowing to this area is higher and exceeds the flow to muscle, liver, or brain.

This vascular nasal capillary bed also permits intranasal medication delivery. This way, fluids delivered via the nostrils cross the capillary bed and rush into the bloodstream.

The nasal hair acts as a filtering funnel to restrict the entry of larger-sized particles inside by trapping and consequently preventing them from entering the lungs. The conditioning of the air before reaching the lungs is significant in preserving the internal environment as well as for the proper functioning of the lungs.

Along with aiding respiration, your nose helps dislodge and expel unwanted particles through reflexive actions like sneezing.

Smelling

A typical, healthy human nose can discern over 1 trillion scents.

The nose houses an area of specialized cells essential for smelling function. It is accomplished by the parts in the olfactory system where special olfactory cells, neurons, and special glands help in the smelling mechanism. Along with the ability to smell, it also helps distinguish between various smells.

Speech

Pressure from the lungs is responsible for speech. This pressure can be modified using airflow through the nose. This process is called nasalization. The hollow cavities of the paranasal sinuses (PNS) function as resonating chambers that modify and amplify speech and other vibrations passing through them.

Summary

Your nasal anatomy and physiology are crucial to your overall health. Your nose is the primary line of defense mechanism in fighting against sickness, as it can control the quality of air. It collects and traps debris before they enter your body.

In case of facial trauma, your nose is prone to suffer significant damage because of its projected appearance.

FAQs

A few common questions related to the nose are listed below:

Q. What are the nose conditions that should prompt a physician’s care?

A. Several symptoms necessitate clinical emergency conditions related to the nose. The following are to be addressed soon:

  • Non-stop Nosebleeds And Recurrent Bloody Discharges. These could be signs of brain issues. A quick visit to an otolaryngologist or a head trauma specialist is essential in such conditions.
  • Clear Or Discolored Discharge From The Nose. This could be a sign of mild or severe respiratory tract infection. Consult a physician immediately.
  • Sinus Pain. Sinuses can be infected in a condition called sinusitis. You should consider visiting an ENT surgeon if there is persistent pain despite treatment with antibiotics and painkillers.
  • Recurrent High-Degree Fever With Nasal Block or Stuffiness or Shortness Of Breath: Consult an ENT physician immediately to rule out a polyp (a small vascular growth on the mucous membrane) or other cause.

Q. Is Snoring A Sign Of A Nasal Disorder?

A. Possibly, yes. Especially, if snoring prevents you from sleeping, talk to an ENT physician and, if required, with a neurologist.

Q. Can Nose Deformities Be Rectified?

A. Both congenital deformities and those that are caused by traumas can be corrected. Septoplasty and rhinoplasty procedures are popular in the US.

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