Merck Manual

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Introduction to Nose and Sinus Disorders


Marvin P. Fried

, MD, Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital of Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Reviewed/Revised Jul 2023
Topic Resources
The Nose

The upper part of the nose consists mostly of bone. The lower part of the nose gains its support from cartilage. Inside the nose is a hollow cavity (nasal cavity), which is divided into two passages by a thin sheet of cartilage and bone called the nasal septum. The bones of the face contain the paranasal sinuses, which are hollow cavities that open into the nasal cavity (see Nose and Sinuses Nose and Sinuses The nose is the organ of smell and a main passageway for air into and out of the lungs. The nose warms, moistens, and cleans air before it enters the lungs. The bones of the face around the... read more ).

Because of its prominent position, the nose is especially vulnerable to injury, including fractures Fractures of the Nose The bones of the nose are broken more often than any other facial bone. Typically, a broken (fractured) nose bleeds, hurts, and swells. To diagnose a broken nose, a doctor looks at and feels... read more Fractures of the Nose . Bacterial nasal infections Bacterial Nasal Infections Bacteria may cause pimples and boils (furuncles) to form just inside the opening of each nostril (the nasal vestibule). Minor infections at the opening of the nose, called nasal vestibulitis... read more , nosebleeds Nosebleeds Some people get nosebleeds rather often, and others rarely get them. There may be just a trickle of blood or a strong stream. If people swallow the blood, they often vomit it because blood is... read more , objects inserted in the nose Objects in the Nose Cotton, paper, pebbles, beads, seeds, nuts, insects, button batteries, and beans are just a few of the many objects that children, people with intellectual impairment, and people with mental... read more , and polyps Nasal Polyps Nasal polyps are fleshy outgrowths of the mucous membrane of the nose. Nasal polyps are more likely to develop in people who have allergies or asthma. Some of the symptoms caused by polyps are... read more Nasal Polyps also can affect the nose. The mucous membrane of the nose may become inflamed (rhinitis Rhinitis Rhinitis is inflammation and swelling of the mucous membrane of the nose, characterized by a runny nose and stuffiness and usually caused by the common cold or a seasonal allergy. Colds and... read more Rhinitis ). This inflammation may spread to the lining of the sinuses (rhinosinusitis Sinusitis Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses, most commonly caused by a viral or bacterial infection or by an allergy. Some of the most common symptoms of sinusitis are pain, tenderness, nasal congestion... read more ).

A Look Inside the Nose and Throat

A Look Inside the Nose and Throat
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