You might not think your nose is a "vital organ," but indeed it is! To understand its importance, all that most people need to experience is a bad cold. Nasal congestion and a runny nose have a noticeable effect on quality of life, energy level, ability to breathe, ability to sleep, and ability to function in general.
Why is your nose so important?
It processes the air that you breathe before it enters your lungs. Most of this activity takes place in and on the turbinates, located on the sides of the nasal passages. In an adult, 18,000 to 20,000 liters of air pass through the nose each day.
Your nose protects your health by:
- Filtering all that air and retaining particles as small as a pollen grain with 100% efficiency.
- Humidifiing the air that you breathe, adding moisture to the air to prevent dryness of the lining of the lungs and bronchial tubes.
- Warming cold air to body temperature before it arrives in your lungs.
For these and many other reasons, normal nasal function is essential. Do your lungs a favor; take care of your nose.
Because the connection between the nose and lungs is so important, paying attention to problems in the nose--allergic rhinitis for instance – can reduce or avoid problems in the lungs such as bronchitis and asthma. Ignoring nasal symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, runny nose, or thick nasal discharge can aggravate lung problems and lead to other problems:
- Nasal congestion reduces the sense of smell.
- Mouth breathing causes dry mouth, which increases the risk of mouth and throat infections and reduces the sense of taste. Mouth breathing also pulls all pollution and germs directly into the lungs; dry cold air in the lungs makes the secretions thick, slows the cleaning cilia, and slows down the passage of oxygen into the blood stream.
- Ignoring nasal allergies increases the chance that you will develop asthma; it also makes asthma worse if you already have it. So, it is important to treat nasal symptoms promptly to prevent worsening of lung problems.