Eight Amazing Facts About Your Ear, Nose, and Throat

Ear nose and throat doctors, commonly referred to as ENT doctors, deal with all kinds of issues in the head, sinuses, and throat structures. They have an interest in everything palsy to swimmer’s ear, sinus pressure to allergies, vocal cord cancer to hearing loss. ENT doctors have seen a lot of weird stuff, and they know a lot of cool facts about how your ear, nose, and throat work. Read on for eight cool facts that ENT doctors can tell us about ourselves!

  1. Your nose is a really hard worker. Your nose is one of the most complicated and efficient air filters ever designed. Every day, about 20,000 liters of air passes through your nose! It’s not surprising that we sometimes experience issues with our nose, given how hard we make it work. That’s one reason ENT doctors so often deal with things like allergic rhinitis or asthma, which almost never go away on their own. ENT doctors are experts in the two separate chambers of your nose, divided by the septum in the middle.
  2. Speaking of the nose, you can’t taste much without it. Our noses and our mouth are designed to work together to help us perceive taste. It’s the combination of signals from our taste buds, the nerves in our mouth that sense texture, and our nose that makes what we think of as the actual taste of any given food. Our noses actually have special cells that perceive smell and send that information to our mouths! No wonder ENT doctors have to specialize in the whole area.
  3. If you’re eating right now, stop before you read the next one. That was your warning; here’s the fact: every day our noses produce an entire liter of mucus (more if we’re sick), which we normally swallow!
  4. Your ears are complicated and delicate structures. Hearing loss is pretty common: in fact, about 15% of adults in the United States have some kind of trouble with their hearing, and 25% of people over 65 have disabling hearing loss. There are a lot of reasons or hearing loss, and only some of it swimmer’s ear (which usually clears up on its own in about a week) or too much earwax. Fortunately, ENT doctors are well trained in diagnosing and dealing with hear loss of all kinds.
  5. Speaking of the ear, earwax is pretty cool, actually. Did you know that anthropologists use ear wax to study the migration patterns of early humans? Our ears produce wax at different rates in response to wet or dry climates, or to dust, sand, or even pollution. Stress and fear can also increase the rate at which we produce earwax.
  6. Our human scent receptors are better than we used to think. Compared to dogs, for example, our sense of smell is really nothing special. But while experts used to think that human beings could only perceive about 10,000 different scents, we now know that the 400 types of receptors in our noses are capable of distinguishing among at least 1 trillion different smells! That’s not too shabby.
  7. You’re not imagining it: that smell really does make you remember things. Amazingly, our noses are actually directly connected to the part of our brains responsible for linking an emotion to an event. This means a scent can totally make us feel things, not just remember them.
  8. We lose olfactory cells and taste bud sensitivity as we age. Ever notice how picky little kids can be about eating? Usually parents say things like “you’ll grow to like it,” as if learning to like that food is an advance. Actually, it’s a step backward! Our childhood tongues are far more perceptive than our adult ones, meaning that we are more sensitive to bitter, sour, or sharp tastes in childhood. We also start out life with about 12 million receptor cells in our noses, but that number goes down as we get older.

Our ears nose and throat structures are pretty amazing. It’s also amazing that we have ENT doctors who are capable of understanding them and all the wonderful things they can do!

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