Human Nose Facts


Besides being an identifying feature on the face, the nose is an amazingly complex instrument. However, our noses usually don't get a lot of attention, unless they're congested or there are rumors flying that a celebrity has done something to theirs. These human nose facts may truly surprise you.


Although the nose has many amazing abilities, for many people the most significant feature of their nose is its appearance. On average, mens' noses are larger than womens'. Many people are dissatisfied with the shape of their nose, which is why plastic surgery to reshape the nose – known as "rhinoplasty" – is one of the world's most common cosmetic surgery procedures. Rhinoplasty may also be performed to improve breathing or otherwise correct the structure of the nose, rather than focusing solely on its appearance.

Sense of Smell

The medical term for the sense of smell is "olfaction." The human nose has millions of cells able to detect approximately 10,000 odors. Though this may seem like a lot, the human nose is actually far less sensitive than many other animals' noses, such as dogs, and the human brain dedicates less of its space to smelling than other animals, including fish. Women frequently have a sharper sense of smell than men, though each person's sense of smell is unique. The nose plays an important role in your safety, as it can help you detect dangerous chemicals in the air, such a the smell of gasoline. The sense of smell can be lost – known as "anosmia" – stronger than usual ("hyperosmia") or altered so that things don't smell like they should, known as "dysosmia." The ability to smell typically decreases with age.

Role in Taste

The nose plays an important role in the sense of taste. Though the taste buds can detect sour, bitter, sweet, and salty flavors, any other tastes are identified by cells located within the nose. Two small patches high in the nasal cavity, each containing about six million cells, are responsible for the ability to smell and taste.

The Unusual Abilities of Human Noses

Besides aiding in breathing and your sense of smell and taste, the human nose may have many other amazing abilities. It is said that if your nose itches, you will either be receiving visitors, getting kissed by a foll, or getting into a fight very soon. The nose can also be used for a greeting; it is traditional for Maori people in New Zealand to press their noses together as a form of greeting.


Though these human nose facts are well known, there is also plenty of folklore and superstition surrounding noses. According to superstition, you should never cover your mouth and hold your nose while sneezing, because the resulting pressure could blow out your eyeballs. Thomas Wedders, a circus performer in the 1700's, reportedly had a nose measuring nearly 8" long. Tycho Brahe, a Danish philosopher, is known for losing the tip of his nose during a sword fight and replacing it with a piece of gold.


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