When your nose feels
good, you feel better!
In addition to smell, the nose performs four important tasks. All four of them are related to the inhaled air that it cleans, heats, humidifies and adds nitrogen oxide to.
The first function the nose performs is to cleanse the air that is inhaled from particles and pollutants. Everyone has worked in a dusty environment at some time and then blown their noses. Their handkerchiefs reveal just how much air pollution remains in the nose. Breathing in through the mouth does not have the same ‘filter effect’ as breathing through the nose.
2. More favourable air temperature.
Breathing in through the nose heats the air in an extraordinarily effective way. It takes just five 100ths of a second for the air temperature to be raised from zero to 30 degrees Celsius as it passes through the nose, a distance of just seven centimetres. Breathing in cold air through the mouth, on the other hand, increases the risk of asthma, otherwise known as cold-induced asthma.
3. Increased relative humidity.
Problems caused by dry nasal mucous membranes are very common in cold climate zones. However, the relative humidity is low not only when it is cold outdoors but also in an indoor climate that is regulated by air conditioning. A flight to Thailand or the USA can also dry out the nasal mucous membranes. The air on board aircraft is very dry. Not everything can be blamed on the environment, however. Elderly people, and women in particular, develop dry mucous membranes as part of the ageing process. Breathing through the nose gives the air physiologically improved relative humidity.
4. Improved oxygen uptake capacity.
During nasal breathing, the inhaled air attracts the gas molecule, nitrogen oxide, which forms in the nasal sinuses. Nitrogen oxide has a positive effect on lung function – the blood vessels dilate and the oxygenation of the blood improves. Improved lung function and oxygenation are beneficial to every individual and, in particular, to people who exercise, sportsmen, cardiovascular patients and patients with reduced oxygen uptake capacity.