9 Things to Know About Your Nose

You know that your nose helps you breathe and smell, but have you ever wondered what else it can do? Here are some nose facts that might surprise you.
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Published on
March 6, 2020
Updated on
January 7, 2022

Your nose is quite the remarkable body part.

You sniff from it, breathe from it, sneeze from it and leak from it. There are big ones, small ones, short ones and long ones – we're looking at you Pinocchio – but no two noses are the same.

The nose has several functions crucial to your well-being (breathing being pretty high up on the list). You know poor breathing can lead to snoring and sleep apnea or your sinuses can get congested from allergies, but how much do you really know about it? Of all the things you think you know about your nose, it may come as a surprise that there's a lot more to that flesh and cartilage appendage than you think. Here are some fun facts about your schnoz...

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1. Your nose affects your taste receptors

Maybe as a kid you held your nose when presented with what you considered a distasteful dish at dinner. As ridiculous as it looked, you found it to be an effective solution for swallowing that taste you didn’t like. That’s because when you chew, air is pushed over thousands of nerve endings in your nose and throat. This air, or aroma, is processed with the food allowing for the grand sensation of flavor.

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2. The rise and fall of your nose

By the time you’ve reached the late stages of teenhood, your nose has reached its final form. But time and gravity have their own plans. Once it’s fully matured, your nose will slowly sag and lengthen as you grow older. But that’s okay, it won’t fall off entirely.

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3. More mucus than you know

It may not feel like it, but every day your nose produces a whopping 34 ounces, or one liter, of mucus. Fortunately, it doesn’t often profusely leak from the front of your face. In fact, most of it goes down your throat due to post-nasal drip.

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4. 20,000 liters into your nostrils

Compared to the amount of snot you make, the amount of air you breathe in over the course of one day surpasses it by a LONG shot. In a 24-hour period, 20,000 liters of air will pass through your nose. That’s the equivalent to 5,283 gallons! Good thing this stuff is free.

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5. Your nose’s need for speed

The process of a sneeze starts with a slow inhale, violent release of air followed by a short feeling of euphoria. What you may not know is that when the sneeze is released it is coming out at an incredible speed of 100 miles per hour!

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6. Speaking of sneezes…

Due to the speed and power of a sneeze, the germs that are launched from your nose make landfall up to 200 feet away. So, to practice good manners and hygiene, for everyone’s sake, please cover your face when you sneeze.

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7. What a bright idea

How often do you hear, “If you have to sneeze, look up at the lights.”? Well don’t be so quick to ignore the advice because, guess what? It’s true. Light – especially that from the sun – can trigger a sneeze due to the photic sneeze reflex. In theory (scientists have been studying this phenomenon for years), light triggers the trigeminal nerve (controls feelings in your face) which is near your optic nerve. When both begin to fire, your nose is tricked into thinking there’s an irritation. Thus, you sneeze.

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8. Humans can detect more than one trillion scents

Humans get a bad rap about their ability to smell. Maybe it’s because the snout of man’s best friend is depicted as being the gold standard. But our noses are pretty impressive, too. According to neurological studies, humans are capable of recognizing one trillion different scents. Odor molecules attach to the 12 million receptors in our nose to give us one incredible sense of smell.

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9. A Love Connection

The kiss; one of the ultimate showings of affection. For that, you can thank your nose and all its places for pheromones to land and go straight to your heart, figuratively. Without your nose you would have a tough time detecting the pheromones given off by your love interest. These pheromones are part of the reason we experience sexual attraction. Love is in the air, literally!

Don't let this list fool you, there are plenty more fun, scientific facts about your nose and even more to be discovered. What we do understand is that the nose is an important part of our quality of breathing and upper respiratory system. So, the next time you think about cursing it because of congestion, remember that without it, you'd be missing out on an endless amount of wonderful things our noses allow us to do.

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First published by ADVENT on
March 6, 2020
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9 Things to Know About Your Nose