Nasal cavity function

Nasal cavity function

Nasal Cavity Function

The sense of smell is the most important part of the human body. Imagine, what would you do without a nose? How would you smell your favorite food? But have you ever wondered what’s the actual system or the working of your nose? It’s complicated but interesting to learn about.

The large space behind the nose up to your mouth is named the nasal cavity. This space is filled with air, or in other words, it’s empty. The nasal cavity is divided into two parts by the nasal septum. These parts are called fossae. Both these cavities are at the end of the two nostrils.

Let us know about its structure in details:


We already know that the nasal cavity is the space behind the nose. If you’ve to understand this in simple words, consider the nasal cavity as the inner part of the nose.

The nasal cavity divides the nose into two segments :

The respiratory segment :

Most parts of each nasal cavity fall under the respiratory segment. It is lined with a column known as the respiratory epithelium.

This region also consists, the conchae, or turbinates. These turbinates contain erectile tissue that allows the mucosa of your nose to devour with the blood. This restricts the airflow and directs the air to the other side of the nose. This cycle repeats itself in approximately two and a half hours.

The olfactory segment :

This segment is lined up with a special type of column known as the olfactory epithelium. This column contains the receptors for the sense of smell.

This segment lies on and beneath the mucosa. The mucosa is present on the roof of both the nasal cavities and along the side of turbinates. The Olfactory segment also includes bipolar neurons, supporting cells, basal cells, and Bowman’s glands.


The basic function that a human body performs to stay alive is breathing. It’s the nose through which you inhale.

The function of the two nasal cavities or the two nostrils is to pass the inhaled air to the rest of the respiratory tract. The cavities have large areas provided by the turbinates, which cools and warms the air around 1 degree of the body temperature.

In addition to this, the inhaled air is purified within the nasal cavity. Alongside this, it also removes the moisture in the inhaled air. The mucosa is lined with a layer of mucus, which works as a filtrate.

The nasal cavity is the main center for the sense of smell. It also contributes to the sense of taste as it is also connected to the mouth.

Common Health Issues

Following are the health complications that are related to the nasal cavity :

Allergic rhinitis 

Allergic rhinitis or hay fever is an allergic condition, which causes itchy or watery eyes, sneezing and some other similar signs and symptoms.

This condition is very common; almost 10 million cases are reported every year. It often happens seasonally or once a year. This condition doesn’t require any diagnosis or treatment as it is self-treatable and self-diagnosable.

Only in rare cases diagnosis is required. The diagnosis revolves around the process of checking out the health history.  Examination of the nasal passages is conducted, and sometimes skin testing is also conducted alongside this. In rare cases, lab tests or other imaging procedures are required.

Nasal polyps

Nasal polyps can also be referred to as nasal polyposis. It is a painless, gentle growth on the inner lining of the nose or the sinuses. This is majorly caused due to some sort of infection, allergies or harmful drugs. This issue is also quite common as more than 10 million cases are reported per year.

Nasal polyps are treatable by seeking professional help. Alongside this, it also requires a medical diagnosis. In most cases, lab tests or imaging procedures are not necessarily required.

Nasal septum deviation

The nasal septum is the wall that separates the two nostrils from each other. As the name suggests, it is the displacement of the wall that is present in between the nostrils. The walls get displaced to either side of the nose.

The most common cause of this condition is severe external injury or trauma. Most of the time, there would be no noticeable symptoms. Congestion in the nostrils, nosebleeds and noisy breathing while sleeping is the late symptoms of nasal septum deviation.

Fungal sinusitis

Fungal sinusitis is caused by the inflammation of the inner lining of the nose (mucosa). The inflammation is due to a fungal infection. It often occurs in people with low levels of immunity.

Inverting papilloma 

Inverted papilloma is a kind of nasal tumor that originates in the mucosal membrane that is present in the nasal cavity. It grows in the outward direction of the nose. The tumor has finger-like projections that grow in the inward direction towards the bone that lies under the nasal cavity. The tumors can be cancerous too.

Runny nose, nasal obstruction, headaches, facial pain, nasal fractures and nosebleeds are some of the most common symptoms. The diagnosis is carried out with the help of nasal endoscopy. The cause of swollen nasal conchae is usually a neurosensory reflex disorder. It may also be caused by external allergies that lead to inflammation.

Triad asthma

Triad asthma is a clinical term that is used to describe the three conditions that exist together: asthma, aspirin sensitivity and nasal polyps.

Sometimes it is also known as Samter’s triad. The other times, it could also be referred to as an aspirin-related respiratory disease. People over the age of 20 are at the highest risk of developing this condition.

Causes and precautions

Most of the nasal issues are caused by germ infection that includes bacteria, viruses or fungi (molds). Weak immunity can also be a good cause of developing a nose issue.

With certain precautions, one could be saved from catching any sort of nasal issue. As they say, prevention is better than cure. Many times the disease couldn’t be treated, or the treatment might be too costly. It’s always good to stay one step ahead of the illness.

Following are some preventive measures that could provide relief to some extent :

  • Hygiene plays an important part in the prevention process. Wash your hands regularly and clean your surroundings more often.
  • Cut down smoking, and if you aren’t into smoking, distance yourself from people who smoke.
  • Get yourself vaccinated regularly. Either it’s an immunity drug or regular welfare checkup.
  • Respiratory diseases are often spread from one person to the other. Avoid direct contact with people who have a cold and some other kind of respiratory infection.
  • Bring home a humidifier to moisten the air at home and keep it pure, filtered and clean.