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The Nose Knows

I used to think that the only thing you needed a nose for was to hold up your glasses. Boy was I wrong.

Now that the cold weather is once again upon us, I learned that the nose performs the very necessary function of keeping frigid air out of your lungs. It does that by leading to a series of winding passages, known as your sinuses, that twist and turn inside your head until they eventually lead to your throat, your bronchial tubes and your lungs. The sinuses are generously lined with blood vessels that warm and moisten the air and protect your lungs against freezing.

If that were not enough, they also have another important job. Even if you live in a relatively clean city like Los Angeles or Calcutta, there are always impurities in the air. The sinuses are lined with a sticky substance, called mucus, that helps trap all the dirt particles before they get inside your body and cause infections or diseases.

And what do your sinuses do with all that gunk? It would defeat the purpose if it got into your blood stream through all those blood vessels that warm the air! So your body gently coats all that bad stuff with a slippery paste that glides it down, passed your throat into your digestive system to be disposed of through normal channels.

Too much dust to be s-l-o-w-l-y guided out? No problem. Ah-ah-ah-choo! There. You’re done.

But that’s all your sinuses.

What about your nose?

Why is it protruding out of your head over your mouth?

Number One – so you can still breathe at night even while you’re snuggled up under your blankets and pillow. It’s not too hard so that it wakes you when you wedge it into your pillow and not so soft that it would easily collapse and get covered.

Number Two – your nose is not only your first line of defense against dirty air, it’s also your best defense against spoiled food. What’s the first thing you do before you pour the milk onto your corn flakes – you smell the container! Unless your milk has already turned green, there’s no better way to tell how fresh it is than by smelling it.

Number Three – your nose is your first step in the digestive process. Digestion? Yup. As soon as your nose detects that tantalizing smell of a summer barbecue or steaming hot marinara sauce, it automatically triggers your salivary glands to start secreting saliva in preparation for what’s about to follow.

And finally(but not finally at all), when Spring returns and the trees and flowers have started blooming, there is nothing like the smell of that fresh elixir of air to delight your sense of smell and lift your spirits.

So whether you have a hook, a pug, a ski-slope or a Pinocchio nose, you’re still a winner. By a nose!

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Comments icon January 3, 2012


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