This time of year is strongly associated with certain scents: smoke, holiday baking, evergreen trees, mint, spices, citrus, and so much more. Without your sense of smell, the whole festive season would be incomplete, even more so because your ability to appreciate flavor is almost entirely dependent on smell (between 75 and 95%)! So if you haven’t coddled your nose today, here’s a little more information about your incredible sniffer and how you can take care of it. Our Incredible Noses When we breathe in an odour, it flows up the nasal cavity to the roof, or the olfactory cleft, where it is received by nerve endings containing at least 6 million odour-detecting cells. The information that is delivered to the brain identifying the unique “smell” is dependent on the combination of nerves activated. The variety of combinations possible means that we are capable of detecting at least a trillion unique scents! The nose as we see it consists of two nostrils and a septum, which is made of cartilage at the tip and thin pieces of bone closer to the skull. Inside, it’s lined with hair, mucous membranes, and cilia that work together to block, trap, and evacuate invaders like dirt, pollen, dust, and germs before they can enter your lungs. But it’s deep inside the nasal cavity where most of the work of scent-detection takes places. Nose Facts The nose is a remarkable organ that has aided in our survival in a many vital ways. Overtime, however, humans have come to rely less on smell to keep us alive, and as a result we have less olfactory cells then most animals. Compare our 6 million odour-detecting cells to a dog’s 220 million and you’ll understand why we’ve trained them to do most of our sniffing for us. What else don’t you know about the nose?
- Your scent cells are renewed every 30 to 60 days, which means that while a smell may seem old in your memory, your scent cells may actually be detecting it for the first time.
- Our sense of smell is the first sense to develop in the womb.
- Fear and disgust have an odour and we can detect them through sweat.
- Women have better senses of smell than men do.
- Loss of smell may be a serious sign of future illness and disease.
- Except for identical twins, we each have our own unique scent that dogs can detect.
- Smell is the strongest scent linked to emotional memory. 85% of those surveyed associated the scent of crayons with their childhood.
- Scent cells acclimatize easily to the aromas in a space, which is why your home smells strange when you return from a vacation.
- Your nose smells better when the nasal passage is moist.