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Noses Facts and their Health Problems

Noses have a practical and aesthetic function. Many people are concerned that their nose is bent or too big or too small. They pay little attention to the fact that it helps them breathe and smell. In their book, Body Signs, Joan Liebmann-Smith and Jacqueline Nardi Egan discuss how the nose can reveal health problems.

Visible Health Problems with Noses

The appearance of a nose can give doctors a clue as to the health of the person. Here are some of the signs they may look for:
  • A red nose may be due to a simple problem such as a cold, allergies or sunburn. In some cases, however, it can be a sign of alcohol abuse or a skin condition called rosacea
  • People with allergies often push their nose up to try and gain relief from itchiness. This may form a crease across the bridge of the nose
  • A bulbous nose is a caused by a condition known as rhinophyma. The nose skin becomes thickened and may become waxy and oily

Internal Health Problems and Noses

There are a number of health issues that relate to the nose and its inner workings:
  • Snoring – especially snoring that has recently started can be a sign of a cold or allergy or something more serious such as enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Rarely it can be caused by a growth that is blocking the airflow through the nose.
  • A runny nose is usually due to a cold but can also be caused by snorting cocaine or a tumor.
  • A dry nose may be caused by the use of some medications that are used to treat asthma and a blocked nose.
  • A bad smell coming from the nose can be a sign of ozena – a condition where the nasal structure becomes atrophied.
  • A decreased ability to smell may be due to aging. People in their 80s only smell half as well as a person in their 60s.
  • A blocked nose from a cold can also affect the sense of smell
  • A zinc deficiency may cause a loss of smell as can various other health problems such as diabetes, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
The sense of smell is closely related to taste and is often taken for granted. The most common problems with noses normally relate to blockages and loss of smell. Fortunately, most of these are easily resolved but in some cases, they may be symptoms of a more serious condition. It is important to consult a rhinologist if there are ongoing problems.

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