The Nose
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 Functions of the nose
 Nasal Dysfunctions
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Nasal Dysfunctions

Nasal congestion refers to the blockage of the nasal passages. In response to various threats the internal nasal tissues swell due to dilated blood vessels, the mucous thickens and the ciliary movement on the mucous membrane decreases lowering in turn the efficiency of cleaning mechanism of the nasal mucosa. As a result, respiration through the nose is obstructed and may eventually lead to attenuation of its protective function and the appearance of infection. Moreover, nasal obstruction can interfere with the ears, decreases the sense of smell and taste, alters the sound of the voice and makes sleep uneasy (snoring). The latter can be associated with sleep apnea. Nasal congestion can also cause mild facial and head pain, and a degree of discomfort.

 


Consequent breathing through the mouth results in inhalation of dry, cold and non-filtered air which is aggressive for the lower respiratory tract (pharynx, trachea, lungs). Absence of air passage through the nose also affects ventilation of the paranasal sinuses and the middle ear.

The newborn infant can only breathe through the nose (newborns are "
obligate nose breathers"). Nasal congestion in an infant in the first few months of life can interfere with breastfeeding and cause life-threatening respiratory distress.

Nasal Congestion can be caused by:

• the common cold (influenza)
• allergies (allergic rhinitis)
• non-allergic rhinitis
• sinus infection (Sinusitis)
• reaction to medication (rebound syndrome)
• in situations where there is increased blood flow (e.g. in an altered body position)
• hormonal (hypothyroidism, diabetes, pregnancy)
• gastric reflux
nasal polyps