Runny Noses and Immune Defence

Being sick, not so fun. But here’s a fun fact about the runny noses that are all so common this time of the year...

Inside our noses we have cilia, tiny hairlike cells of the nasal mucosa that grab onto and remove dust and pathogens from the air as it flows through our nasal cavity.  The cilia move the mucus down the nasal cavity to the pharynx, where it can be swallowed. Sounds gross, but it's actually very protective; better to be in our stomach where it can be disarmed by our digestive acids rather than reaching our lungs where it can then get into our blood stream and possibly make us really sick.  It's part of the first line of defence in our immune system. In extreme cold temperatures, these cilia become sluggish at moving that mucus downward to our pharynx, thus allowing mucus to accumulate in the nasal cavity and to dribble outward though the nostrils.  This explains why our noses "run" in chilly weather.  Now you know!

Extra tidbit: Cigarette smoking destroys the cilia, thus smokers are more prone to runny noses!

By Yvette Styner, CHN
Certified Holistic Nutritionist