Human Nose

The external nose is formed of bone and cartilage, a very fortunate situation considering the amount of abuse and trauma it sustains throughout life. The nasal bones are short and account for only a small proportion of the length. The rest of the basic framework is made of cartilage, gristle like material that tends to bend easily and does not have the same tendency to break. In fact, it can endure an enormous amount of battering, and still pop back to its original position.

Just the same, many young people develop phobias about the shape of their noses, and are forever looking for ways of altering its contour. It is either too long, too short, has a bump in the middle, has a turn at the end, and so forth. In an effort to make everybody happy, the cosmetic surgeons (or reconstruction surgeons as they are now sometimes called) can do much to alter the shape, size and length of the nose. In fact, it can be tailor-mad: to the whims of the owner. However after the initial novelty has worn off some wish it had never been done, others are delighted, and it can totally alter a personality, usually for the better. The nostrils contain hairs aimed at removing large particles from the air. These form a protective mechanism. However, often they are subject to dangers as germs track down to their roots and set up extremely painful infections called furuncles (or boils).

The left and right sides of the nasal passages are divided by a bone called the nasal septum. This is meant be fairly straight, and without any major deviations to one side or the other. However, either due to some genetic malfunction or to injuries sustained during childhood or in adult life, the septum can be knocked crooked following trauma. In due course, this can have a very adverse effect on the nasal structures, for it impedes normal, even aeration of the structures on each side, particularly the sinuses. For this reason operations aimed at straightening the septum are common.

On each side, there are bony folds running parallel to the septum, called the concha or turbinates. There are three in all, named from below upwards: the inferior, middle and superior concha. Each one overhangs a groove called a meatus. The turbinates are covered with pink mucous membrane, and also contain special cells called ciliated epithelium. These have a brush like action, and tend to sweep unwanted particles and debris toward the outside. It is nature’s inbuilt system of self-housekeeping. The function of this intricate system is to warm and moisten air that is inhaled and so make it more suitable for entry into the lung system. Unwanted germs and particles that may be harmful are picked up by the lining membrane, and are also swept to the outside.