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Sniffing Out Science: Fun Facts About Your Nose

Sniffing Out Science: Fun Facts About Your Nose

When we stop and smell the roses, take a whiff of freshly-baked apple pie, or inhale the intoxicating scent of our “special someone’s” cologne, we appreciate the aromas, but we rarely stop to thank our noses. Without olfaction (sense of smell), these things wouldn’t be near as special, sweet, or sentimental. After all, it’s the fragrance that we cherish, as it’s seared into our brains as a reminder of how lovely life can be. That said, dirty diapers and dumpsters provide the balance we wish didn’t have to exist. But without the stinky stuff, we may not appreciate the far-better natural and man-made smells as much, which makes the stench of that subway system at least somewhat bearable.

Our noses are nifty. Some folks may wish theirs protruded less or didn’t sound like a freight train while they snore, but remember, along with the power to smell, breathing is a big bonus. Even the sense of taste is heightened thanks to our mouths’ upstairs neighbor. With so many functions, this mid-face feature is full of interesting facts that even the folks at Kleenex would be surprised to know. So, get your finger out of your nose and start scrolling. Preferably after you wash your hands. These nose-related fun facts are nothing to sneeze at.

To smell or not to smell?

If “not to smell” is your answer – and it’s not by choice – you could be suffering from anosmia – the loss of smell. Some may argue that this wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, especially if they’ve just cleaned their cat’s litter box, but the condition can be disruptive, even dangerous. It’s one thing not to be able to get the full flavor of your favorite food since the senses of smell and taste are intertwined, but imagine not smelling a gas leak or that telltale sign your chicken sandwich is spoiled. Our sense of smell not only brings pleasure but protection as well.

Anosmia can happen for a variety of reasons, from growth inside the sinuses to exposure to chemicals. Older folks can lose their sense of smell, and some conditions like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease may play a role. Even some medications list loss of smell as a side effect, and drug and/or alcohol use can contribute too. Whether the problem is temporary or persists, anosmia stinks. Perhaps a poor choice of words.

Females smell better: Well, at least they are able to. Smell impairment is more common among men. Husbands can now blame the stench coming from their “man cave” on science.

Stayin’ alive…

Surely the last thing anyone’s thinking about after someone dies is the inside of their nose. Unless they’re hiding a treasured family heirloom gem up a nostril, this area is generally ignored. Obviously, the deceased is no longer breathing, but their nasal cilia aren’t ready to call it quits so quickly. These hair-like projections we all have inside our noses can keep moving up to 20 hours post-mortem. This phenomenon could prove useful in determining one’s time of death. For the sake of those paying their respects, let’s hope nothing else is moving around in the casket.

Aside from weirding us out after death, what do cilia do?
Cilia traps dust, bugs, allergens, and other nasty stuff so we don’t breathe it in. It gets nastier…the pollutants hang out in our mucous, slide down our throat, and we digest them. Who’s up for appetizers?

The “Ah-Choo!” doesn’t fall far from the tree

Ever notice how some people are “one and done” types of sneezers, while other folks can spew out a sequence of six or more? It’s not a choice, but more of a genetic predisposition. Not only might the quantity per “sneeze session” be similar, but the style and sound of the sneeze may be alike as well. Sneezing is a reflex, and it moves the tissues to force air out. Since blood relatives’ bodies have comparable composition, it’s understandable that their sneezes would be a family affair.

The need for speed: It’s a good thing you can’t get pulled over for sneezing in a school zone. Particles in a sneeze move at a rate of about 100 mph!

The nose grows

Our noses never stop growing. So much for that button nose, you may have had as a teen, because once you reach your golden years, your button will be more like a banana. It’s mostly gravity that causes the tip to dip, but the collagen and elastin start to break down over time, causing the structure to slip. It’s all part of getting older, but in today’s looks-obsessed culture, the droop is a downer. Some older folks even go under the knife to get their old – well, young – nose back. As per the Buckingham Center for Facial Plastic Surgery, “Common reasons for middle-aged or older rhinoplasty include, signs of aging in the nose, including a bulbous and/or drooping tip, breathing problems, and a new opportunity to fix aesthetic issues.” A few tweaks and it’s bye, bye beak.

Live long and prosper: The record for the longest nose goes to Mehmet Özyürek of Turkey. From bridge to tip, he measured a whopping 3.46 inches. His runny nose must be more like a waterfall.

Snoring stats

People are keeping their partners awake night after night thanks to their relentless snoring. About 45% of men and 25% of women snore regularly, creating a collective disruption that’s destroying others’ dreams. In a nutshell, as per the American Academy of Sleep Education, “You snore when the flow of air as you breathe makes the tissues in the back of your throat vibrate. The sound most often occurs as you breathe in air, and can come through the nose, mouth, or a combination of the two. It can occur during any stage of sleep.” If your bedmate is driving you berserk, it’s best they don’t sleep on their back, as this position is more likely to cause snoring. Shove ‘em over for both your sakes.

Wait it out: After age 70, men snore less frequently. Women seem to stick with the hard-to-listen-to honker habit.

If you’re experiencing a cold, sinus congestion, or any other nose-related issues, walk into your nearest vybe location or visit to schedule an appointment online.