Anatomy of the nose

How the nose


To understand the importance of keeping a clear nose, you need to know a bit more about the human nose and how it functions.

The nose and nasal cavities are the main openings near the external part of the respiratory system. The nose is a facial structure made of cartilage, bones, muscles and skin that supports and protects the lower part of the nasal cavity.

Nasal mucus

Nasal mucus

The nasal cavity is covered by a mucous membrane, whose upper part consists of an epithelium with: cells producing mucus and ciliate cells covered with very thin hairs, vibratile cilia (see figure opposite). There is an elaborate network of capillary blood vessels extending beneath the epithelium.

Nasal mucus is vital for the proper functioning of the entire respiratory system.

The nose heats and humidifies over 12,000 litres of air-a-day. It works with the help of various defence mechanisms: the epithelium and a dense network of capillary vessels, mucus, vibratile cilia for moving the mucus, cells belonging to the immune system and lots of substances that can block bacteria, viruses and noxious substances.

The nose is also the immune system’s first line of defence.

Nasal cavity

Nasal cavity

The nasal cavity is a narrow space covered with mucus extending from the nostrils to the passageway to the pharynx (choana). It is divided into two halves (right and left) by a septum of cartridges. There are turbinates(lower, middle and upper) on both sides of the nasal cavity. There are also paranasal sinuses, bilateral air-filled spaces between the cranium and facial bones connected to the nasal cavity by the ostia. The sinuses have several important functions, such as humidifying air, making the voice resonate and providing protection.