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Asked by  | 21st Jul, 2010, 10:19: PM

Expert Answer:

The nasal passages play two critical roles: they filter the air to remove potentially disease-causing particles; and they moisten and warm the air to protect the structures in the respiratory system.
Filtering prevents airborne bacteria, viruses, other potentially disease-causing substances from entering the lungs, where they may cause infection. Filtering also eliminates smog and dust particles, which may clog the narrow air passages in the smallest bronchioles.
Coarse hairs found just inside the nostrils of the nose trap airborne particles as they are inhaled. The particles drop down onto the mucous membrane lining the nasal passages. The cilia embedded in the mucous membrane wave constantly, creating a current of mucus that propels the particles out of the nose or downward to the pharynx. In the pharynx, the mucus is swallowed and passed to the stomach, where the particles are destroyed by stomach acid. If more particles are in the nasal passages than the cilia can handle, the particles build up on the mucus and irritate the membrane beneath it. This irritation triggers a reflex that produces a sneeze to get rid of the polluted air.

Answered by  | 23rd Jul, 2010, 10:47: AM

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