The Human Body

Nose

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Nose, organ of smell, and also part of the apparatus of respiration and voice. Considered anatomically, it may be divided into an external portion—the visible projection portion, to which the term nose is popularly restricted—and an internal portion, consisting of two principal cavities, or nasal fossae, separated from each other by a vertical septum, and subdivided by spongy or turbinated bones that project from the outer wall into three passages, or meatuses, with which various sinuses in the ethmoid, sphenoid, frontal, and superior maxillary bones communicate by narrow apertures.

The margins of the nostrils are usually lined with a number of stiff hairs (vibrissae) that project across the openings and serve to arrest the passage of foreign substances, such as dust and small insects, which might otherwise be drawn up with the current of air intended for respiration. The skeleton, or framework, of the nose is partly composed of the bones forming the top and sides of the bridge, and partly of cartilages. On either side are an upper lateral and a lower lateral cartilage, to the latter of which are attached three or four small cartilaginous plates, termed sesamoid cartilages. The cartilage of the septum separates the nostrils and, in association posteriorly with the perpendicular plate of the ethmoid and with the vomer, forms a complete partition between the right and left nasal fossae.

The nasal fossae, which constitute the internal part of the nose, are lofty and of considerable depth. They open in front through the nostrils and behind end in a vertical slit on either side of the upper pharynx, above the soft palate, and near the orifices of the Eustachian tubes, leading to the tympanic cavity of the ear.

In the olfactory region of the nose the mucous membrane is very thick and colored by a brown pigment. The olfactory nerve, or nerve of smell, terminates in the nasal cavity in several small branches; these ramify in the soft mucous membrane and end in tiny varicose fibers that in turn terminate in elongated epithelial cells projecting into the free surface of the nose.

For diseases of the nose, see Cold, Common; Rhinitis.