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Human nose

Human nose

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The visible part of the human nose
Nose
Anatomically, a nose is a protuberance in vertebrates that houses the nostrils, or nares, which admit and expel air for respiration in conjunction with the mouth. Behind the nose are the olfactory mucosa and the sinuses. Behind the nasal cavity, air next passes through the pharynx, shared with the...

is the protruding part of the face
Face
The face is a central sense organ complex, for those animals that have one, normally on the ventral surface of the head, and can, depending on the definition in the human case, include the hair, forehead, eyebrow, eyelashes, eyes, nose, ears, cheeks, mouth, lips, philtrum, temple, teeth, skin, and...

 that bears the nostril
Nostril
A nostril is one of the two channels of the nose, from the point where they bifurcate to the external opening. In birds and mammals, they contain branched bones or cartilages called turbinates, whose function is to warm air on inhalation and remove moisture on exhalation...

s. The shape of the nose is determined by the ethmoid bone
Ethmoid bone
The ethmoid bone is a bone in the skull that separates the nasal cavity from the brain. As such, it is located at the roof of the nose, between the two orbits. The cubical bone is lightweight due to a spongy construction. The ethmoid bone is one of the bones that makes up the orbit of the eye...

 and the nasal septum
Nasal septum
The nasal septum separates the left and right airways in the nose, dividing the two nostrils.It is depressed by the Depressor septi nasi muscle.-Composition:The fleshy external end of the nasal septum is sometimes also called columella....

, which consists mostly of cartilage
Cartilage
Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue found in many areas in the bodies of humans and other animals, including the joints between bones, the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the elbow, the knee, the ankle, the bronchial tubes and the intervertebral discs...

 and which separates the nostrils. On average the nose of a male
Male
Male refers to the biological sex of an organism, or part of an organism, which produces small mobile gametes, called spermatozoa. Each spermatozoon can fuse with a larger female gamete or ovum, in the process of fertilization...

 is larger than that of a female
Female
Female is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces non-mobile ova .- Defining characteristics :The ova are defined as the larger gametes in a heterogamous reproduction system, while the smaller, usually motile gamete, the spermatozoon, is produced by the male...

.

The nose has an area of specialised cells which are responsible for smelling (part of the olfactory system
Olfactory system
The olfactory system is the sensory system used for olfaction, or the sense of smell. Most mammals and reptiles have two distinct parts to their olfactory system: a main olfactory system and an accessory olfactory system. The main olfactory system detects volatile, airborne substances, while the...

). Another function of the nose is the conditioning of inhaled air, warming it and making it more humid. Hairs inside the nose prevent large particles from entering the lungs. Sneezing is usually caused by foreign particles irritating the nasal mucosa, but can more rarely be caused by sudden exposure to bright light (called the photic sneeze reflex
Photic sneeze reflex
The photic sneeze reflex is a condition of uncontrollable sneezing in response to numerous stimuli, such as looking at bright lights or periocular injection...

) or touching the external auditory canal. Sneezing is a means of transmitting infections
Transmission (medicine)
In medicine and biology, transmission is the passing of a communicable disease from an infected host individual or group to a conspecific individual or group, regardless of whether the other individual was previously infected...

 because it creates aerosols in which the droplets can harbour microbes.

Anatomy


The nasal root is the top of the nose, forming an indentation at the suture where the nasal bones meet the frontal bone. The anterior nasal spine
Anterior nasal spine
Medially, the anterior surface of the maxilla is limited by a deep concavity, the nasal notch, the margin of which gives attachment to the Dilator naris posterior and ends below in a pointed process, which with its fellow of the opposite side forms the anterior nasal spine.-External links:* * -...

 is the thin projection of bone at the midline on the lower nasal margin, holding the cartilaginous center of the nose. Adult humans have nasal hair
Nasal hair
Nasal hair or nose hair is the hair in the nose. Its main function is to keep foreign or unwanted particles from entering the lungs through the nasal cavity...

s in the anterior nasal passage.

Related medical conditions


One of the most common medical conditions involving the nose are nosebleed
Nosebleed
Epistaxis or a nosebleed is the relatively common occurrence of hemorrhage from the nose, usually noticed when the blood drains out through the nostrils...

s (in medicine: epistaxis). Most of them occur in Kiesselbach's area (synonym: Little's area). Nasal congestion
Nasal congestion
Nasal congestion is the blockage of the nasal passages usually due to membranes lining the nose becoming swollen from inflamed blood vessels. It is also known as nasal blockage, nasal obstruction, blocked nose, stuffy nose, or stuffed up nose.Nasal congestion has many causes and can range from a...

 is a common symptom of infections or other inflammations of the nasal lining (rhinitis), such as in allergic rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis, also known as pollenosis or hay fever, is an allergic inflammation of the nasal airways.It occurs when an allergen, such as pollen, dust or animal dander is inhaled by an individual with a sensitized immune system...

 or vasomotor rhinitis (resulting from nasal spray
Nasal spray
Nasal sprays come in a variety of forms. Medicated such as Astelin, Afrin and Nasonex and natural such as Sinusoothe and Sterimar. Although delivery methods vary, most nasal sprays function by instilling a fine mist into the nostril by action of a hand-operated pump mechanism.-Antihistamine nasal...

 abuse). Most of these conditions also cause anosmia
Anosmia
Anosmia is a lack of functioning olfaction, or in other words, an inability to perceive odors. Anosmia may be either temporary or permanent. A related term, hyposmia, refers to a decreased ability to smell, while hyperosmia refers to an increased ability to smell. Some people may be anosmic for one...

, which is the medical term for a loss of smell. This may also occur in other conditions, for example following trauma, in Kallmann syndrome
Kallmann syndrome
Kallmann syndrome is a genetic disorder marked by anosmia and hypogonadism - the decreased functioning of the glands that produce sex hormones. Abnormalities in various genes may cause a defect in the hypothalamus, causing a deficiency of gonadotropin-releasing hormone ; this in turn causes...

 or Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system...

.

Nose-picking
Nose-picking
Nose-picking is the act of extracting dried nasal mucus or foreign bodies from the nose with a finger. Despite being a very common habit, it is a mildly taboo activity in most cultures, and the observation of the activity in another person may provoke mixed feelings of disgust and amusement...

 is a common, mildly taboo
Taboo
A taboo is a strong social prohibition relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred and or forbidden based on moral judgment, religious beliefs and or scientific consensus. Breaking the taboo is usually considered objectionable or abhorrent by society...

 habit. Medical risks include the spread of infections, nosebleeds and, rarely, self-induced perforation of the nasal septum
Nasal septum
The nasal septum separates the left and right airways in the nose, dividing the two nostrils.It is depressed by the Depressor septi nasi muscle.-Composition:The fleshy external end of the nasal septum is sometimes also called columella....

. Nose fetishism
Nose fetishism
Nose fetishism, nose partialism, or nasophilia is the partialism for the nose. This may include the sexual attraction to a specific form of physical variation of appearance , or a specific area...

 (or nasophilia) is the sexual fetish
Sexual fetishism
Sexual fetishism, or erotic fetishism, is the sexual arousal a person receives from a physical object, or from a specific situation. The object or situation of interest is called the fetish, the person a fetishist who has a fetish for that object/situation. Sexual fetishism may be regarded, e.g...

 (or paraphilia
Paraphilia
Paraphilia is a biomedical term used to describe sexual arousal to objects, situations, or individuals that are not part of normative stimulation and that may cause distress or serious problems for the paraphiliac or persons associated with him or her...

) for the nose. The psychiatric condition of extreme nose picking is termed rhinotillexomania.

The nose is a common site of foreign bodies. The nose is susceptible to frostbite
Frostbite
Frostbite is the medical condition where localized damage is caused to skin and other tissues due to extreme cold. Frostbite is most likely to happen in body parts farthest from the heart and those with large exposed areas...

. Nasal flaring is a sign of respiratory distress
Respiratory distress
Respiratory distress may refer to either/both:* Labored breathing, the physical presentation of respiratory distress*Shortness of breath or dyspnea - a sensation of respiratory distress-See also:*List of terms of lung size and activity...

 that involves widening of the nostrils on inspiration.

Because of the special nature of the blood supply to the human nose and surrounding area, it is possible for retrograde infections from the nasal area to spread to the brain. For this reason, the area from the corners of the mouth to the bridge of the nose, including the nose and maxilla
Maxilla
The maxilla is a fusion of two bones along the palatal fissure that form the upper jaw. This is similar to the mandible , which is also a fusion of two halves at the mental symphysis. Sometimes The maxilla (plural: maxillae) is a fusion of two bones along the palatal fissure that form the upper...

, is known to doctors as the danger triangle of the face
Danger triangle of the face
The dangerous triangle of the face or maxillofacial death pyramid consists of the area from the corners of the mouth to the bridge of the nose, including the nose and maxilla...

.

A rhinoplasty
Rhinoplasty
Rhinoplasty , also nose job, is a plastic surgery procedure for correcting and reconstructing the form, restoring the functions, and aesthetically enhancing the nose, by resolving nasal trauma , congenital defect, respiratory impediment, and a failed primary rhinoplasty...

 plastic surgery
Plastic surgery
Plastic surgery is a medical specialty concerned with the correction or restoration of form and function. Though cosmetic or aesthetic surgery is the best-known kind of plastic surgery, most plastic surgery is not cosmetic: plastic surgery includes many types of reconstructive surgery, hand...

 for aesthetic surgery Specific systemic diseases, infections or other conditions that may result in destruction of part of the nose (for example, the nasal bridge, or nasal septal perforation) are rhinophyma
Rhinophyma
Rhinophyma is a descriptive term for a large, bulbous, ruddy appearance of the nose caused by granulomatous infiltration, commonly due to untreated rosacea.- Causes :...

, skin cancer
Skin cancer
Skin neoplasms are skin growths with differing causes and varying degrees of malignancy. The three most common malignant skin cancers are basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer, and melanoma, each of which is named after the type of skin cell from which it arises...

 (for example, basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma
Basal-cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It rarely metastasizes or kills. However, because it can cause significant destruction and disfigurement by invading surrounding tissues, it is still considered malignant. Statistically, approximately 3 out of 10 Caucasians may develop a...

), Wegener's granulomatosis
Wegener's granulomatosis
Wegener's granulomatosis , more recently granulomatosis with polyangiitis , is an incurable form of vasculitis that affects the nose, lungs, kidneys and other organs. Due to its end-organ damage, it is life-threatening and requires long-term immunosuppression...

, systemic lupus erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus , often abbreviated to SLE or lupus, is a systemic autoimmune disease that can affect any part of the body. As occurs in other autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body's cells and tissue, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage...

, rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disorder that may affect many tissues and organs, but principally attacks synovial joints. The process produces an inflammatory response of the synovium secondary to hyperplasia of synovial cells, excess synovial fluid, and the development...

, tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

, syphilis
Syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The primary route of transmission is through sexual contact; however, it may also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis...

, leprosy
Leprosy
Leprosy or Hansen's disease is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Named after physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen, leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions...

 and exposure to cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

, chromium
Chromium
Chromium is a chemical element which has the symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It is the first element in Group 6. It is a steely-gray, lustrous, hard metal that takes a high polish and has a high melting point. It is also odorless, tasteless, and malleable...

 or toxins. The nose may be stimulated to grow in acromegaly
Acromegaly
Acromegaly is a syndrome that results when the anterior pituitary gland produces excess growth hormone after epiphyseal plate closure at puberty...

.

Samter's triad
Samter's triad
Samter's triad is a medical condition consisting of asthma, aspirin sensitivity, and nasal/ethmoidal polyposis. It occurs in middle age and may not include any allergies.- Signs and symptoms :...

 is the simultaneous occurrence in a patient of asthma
Asthma
Asthma is the common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath...

, nasal polyps and aspirin sensitivity.

Culture


Some people choose to get rhinoplasty
Rhinoplasty
Rhinoplasty , also nose job, is a plastic surgery procedure for correcting and reconstructing the form, restoring the functions, and aesthetically enhancing the nose, by resolving nasal trauma , congenital defect, respiratory impediment, and a failed primary rhinoplasty...

 to change the aesthetic appearance of their nose. Nose piercing
Nose piercing
Nose piercing is the piercing of the skin or cartilage which forms any part of the nose, normally for the purpose of wearing jewelry; among the different varieties of nose piercings, the nostril piercing is the most common...

s are also common, such as nostril, septum or bridge.

In New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, nose pressing ("hongi
Hongi
A hongi is a traditional Māori greeting in New Zealand. It is done by pressing one's nose and forehead to another person at an encounter....

") is a traditional greeting
Greeting
Greeting is an act of communication in which human beings intentionally make their presence known to each other, to show attention to, and to suggest a type of relationship or social status between individuals or groups of people coming in contact with each other...

 amongst Maori people. However it is now generally confined to certain traditional celebrations.

A sexual fetish (or paraphilia
Paraphilia
Paraphilia is a biomedical term used to describe sexual arousal to objects, situations, or individuals that are not part of normative stimulation and that may cause distress or serious problems for the paraphiliac or persons associated with him or her...

) for the nose
Nose
Anatomically, a nose is a protuberance in vertebrates that houses the nostrils, or nares, which admit and expel air for respiration in conjunction with the mouth. Behind the nose are the olfactory mucosa and the sinuses. Behind the nasal cavity, air next passes through the pharynx, shared with the...

 is called nasophilia.

Jewish people are often portrayed as having large noses in antisemitic propaganda. The term "Jewish nose" is controversial. In China and some other locations in East Asia, Westerners (Caucasians) are often designated as having "big" or "high" noses, due to the differences in shape and proportion between noses typical of Caucasians and those typical of Chinese.

Neanderthals


Clive Finlayson of the Gibraltar Museum said the large Neanderthal
Neanderthal
The Neanderthal is an extinct member of the Homo genus known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia...

 noses were an adaption to the cold, Todd C. Rae of the American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History , located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City, United States, is one of the largest and most celebrated museums in the world...

 said primate and arctic animal studies have shown sinus size reduction in areas of extreme cold rather than enlargement in accordance with Allen's rule
Allen's rule
Allen's rule is a biological rule posited by Joel Asaph Allen in 1877. It states that endotherms from colder climates usually have shorter limbs than the equivalent animals from warmer climates.- Theory :...

. Therefore, Todd C. Rae concludes that the design of the large and prognathic Neanderthal nose was evolved for the hotter climate of the Middle East and was kept when the Neanderthals entered Europe.

Miquel Hernández of the Department of Animal Biology at the University of Barcelona
University of Barcelona
The University of Barcelona is a public university located in the city of Barcelona, Catalonia in Spain. It is a member of the Coimbra Group, LERU, European University Association, Mediterranean Universities Union, International Research Universities Network and Vives Network...

 said the "high and narrow nose of Eskimos" and "Neanderthals" is an "adaption to a cold and dry environment", since it contributes to warming and moisturizing the air and the "recovery of heat and moisture from expired air".

Humans


An article published in the speculative journal Medical Hypotheses
Medical Hypotheses
Medical Hypotheses is a medical journal published by Elsevier. It was originally intended as a forum for unconventional ideas without the traditional filter of scientific peer review, "so long as are coherent and clearly expressed" in order to "foster the diversity and debate upon which the...

suggested that the nose is an alteration of the angle of skull following human skeletal changes due to bipedalism
Human skeletal changes due to bipedalism
The evolution of human bipedalism approximately four million years ago has led to morphological alterations to the human skeleton including changes to the arrangement and size of the bones of the foot, hip size and shape, knee size, leg length, and the shape and orientation of the vertebral column...

. This changed the shape of the skull base causing, together with change in diet, a knock-on morphological reduction in the relative size of the maxillary
Maxillary sinus
The pyramid shaped maxillary sinus is the largest of the paranasal sinuses, and drains into the nose. It is present at birth as rudimentary air cells, and develops throughout childhood.-General characteristics:...

 and mandible and through this a "squeezing" of the protrusion of the most anterior parts of the face more forward and so increasing nose prominence and modifying its shape.

The aquatic ape hypothesis
Aquatic ape hypothesis
The aquatic ape hypothesis is an alternative explanation of some characteristics of human evolution which hypothesizes that the common ancestors of modern humans spent a period of time adapting to life in a partially aquatic environment. The hypothesis is based on differences between humans and...

 relates the nose to a hypothesized period of aquatic adaptation in which the downward-facing nostrils and flexible philtrum
Philtrum
The philtrum , is a medial cleft common to many mammals, extending from the nose to the upper lip, and, together with a glandular rhinarium and slit-like nostrils, is believed to constitute the primitive condition for mammals in general...

 prevented water from entering the nasal cavities. The theory is not generally accepted by mainstream scholars of human evolution
Human evolution
Human evolution refers to the evolutionary history of the genus Homo, including the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species and as a unique category of hominids and mammals...

.

Neoteny



Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation....

 has noted that larger noses are less neotenous
Neoteny
Neoteny , also called juvenilization , is one of the two ways by which paedomorphism can arise. Paedomorphism is the retention by adults of traits previously seen only in juveniles, and is a subject studied in the field of developmental biology. In neoteny, the physiological development of an...

, especially the large "Grecian" nose. Women have smaller noses than men due to not having "increased secretion of testosterone in adolescence" and smaller noses are considered more attractive on women. Werner syndrome
Werner syndrome
Werner syndrome is a very rare, autosomal recessive disorder characterized by the appearance of premature aging....

, a condition that causes the appearance of premature aging, causes a "bird-like" appearance due to pinching of the nose while, conversely, Down syndrome
Down syndrome
Down syndrome, or Down's syndrome, trisomy 21, is a chromosomal condition caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome. It is named after John Langdon Down, the British physician who described the syndrome in 1866. The condition was clinically described earlier in the 19th...

, a neotenizing condition, causes flattening of the nose.

See also

  • Empty nose syndrome
    Empty nose syndrome
    Empty nose syndrome is a term that is used in otolaryngology to describe a nose that has been physiologically crippled by excessive surgical removal of turbinates in the nose in a surgical procedure known as 'turbinectomy' or 'conchotomy'...

    , a nose crippled by excessive resection of the inferior and/or middle turbinates of the nose
  • Jala neti, an Ayurvedic technique of nasal cleansing
    Nasal irrigation
    Nasal irrigation or nasal lavage or nose douche is the personal hygiene practice in which the nasal cavity is washed to flush out excess mucus and debris from the nose and sinuses. The practice is well-tolerated and beneficial with only minor side effects...

  • Nasal administration
    Nasal administration
    Nasal administration can be used to deliver drugs for either local or systemic effect. Locally acting drugs are for example decongestants and allergy treatments...

  • Nasal sebum, the greasy substance on the outer part of the nose
  • Sròn
    Sròn
    Sròn is the Scottish Gaelic word for nose and is the name of some hills in the Scottish Highlands. Before the abolition of the acute accent in Scottish Gaelic, it was sometimes spelt as srón...

    , the Scottish Gaelic
    Scottish Gaelic language
    Scottish Gaelic is a Celtic language native to Scotland. A member of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic languages, Scottish Gaelic, like Modern Irish and Manx, developed out of Middle Irish, and thus descends ultimately from Primitive Irish....

     word for nose and the name of some hills in the Scottish Highlands
    Scottish Highlands
    The Highlands is an historic region of Scotland. The area is sometimes referred to as the "Scottish Highlands". It was culturally distinguishable from the Lowlands from the later Middle Ages into the modern period, when Lowland Scots replaced Scottish Gaelic throughout most of the Lowlands...


Further reading

  • Eden Warwick (pseudonym of George Jabet), Nasology, or hints towards a classification of Noses, London, Richard Bentley, 1848
  • Encyclopedia Britannica Micropedia, 1982

External links