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Learning About Your Nose

What does your nose do?

You breathe through your nose.

It's better to breathe through your nose than your mouth because your nose warms, filters, and adds moisture to the air you breathe in. When you breathe out, breathing through your nose saves warmth and moisture.

Your nose also gives you your sense of smell and is part of what allows you to taste things.

What problems can happen to your nose?

Problems with your nose may include:

  • Nasal polyps, which are lumps of tissue that grow into the nasal passages. They can make it hard to breathe and reduce your sense of smell. They can be caused by allergies.
  • Injury. You can injure your nose playing sports or from a fall.
  • Nosebleeds.
  • Problems with the septum, which is the tissue that separates the nostrils. For example, you may have a hole (perforation) in the septum or a septum that is crooked. These problems can cause a crooked nose, trouble breathing through the nose, or a runny nose.

Health problems that may cause nose problems include:

  • Allergies. These can cause a runny or stuffed nose. An example of an allergy is hay fever.
  • Infections. These can cause a runny or stuffed nose, fever, or pain in your nose, head, or face. Infections include colds, sinusitis, and a nasal abscess, which is a pocket of pus in the nose.

How can you prevent nose problems?

To prevent injury to your nose:

  • Wear a helmet and face guard to protect your head, face, and mouth during sports activities in which facial injuries may occur.
  • Always use car safety seats and seat belts to prevent or reduce nose and facial injuries during a car crash.
  • Wear a face shield when you work with power tools or when you do an activity that might cause an object to fly into your face.

To help with problems or symptoms:

  • Treat stuffiness (nasal congestion) caused by colds or allergies. For example, use a humidifier in your bedroom or use saline drops. Follow the directions for cleaning the humidifier.
  • Avoid cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoke in your home and workplace. Smoke irritates your nose and sinuses.
  • Avoid the things that trigger your allergy attacks.
  • To avoid colds, wash your hands often and avoid people who have colds. Keep your hands away from your face. Your nose, eyes, and mouth are the most likely places for germs to enter your body.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.