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Structure and Functions of Nose & Tongue and Their Disorders

There is a muscular organ inside the mouth called the tongue. The mucosa is the pink, moist tissue covering the tongue.
Structure and function of the tongue

There is a muscular organ inside the mouth called the tongue. The mucosa is the pink, moist tissue covering the tongue. A tongue's rough texture is caused by the presence of papillae, which are small bumps on its surface. On the surfaces of the papillae, there are thousands of taste buds. Several nerve-like cells are found in taste buds and are connected to nerves running into the brain.

An external covering of tough tissue and mucosa anchors the tongue to the mouth. An attachment securing the tongue at the front is called the frenum. At the back of the mouth, there is an anchor that connects the tongue to the hyoid bone. Besides allowing us to chew and swallow food, the tongue also facilitates speech.

A taste can be sweet, sour, bitter, or salty. It is believed that glutamate (present in MSG) is the source of the fifth taste, umami. Taste signals are detected and transmitted to the brain by the tongue's many nerves. As a result, the tongue detects these four flavors at all levels of its body; a tongue-specific "taste map" does not exist.

Functions and its sense to taste
Besides its role in chewing and swallowing, the tongue also plays an important role in communication.

Most taste receptors are located in the papillae of the tongue, which contain taste receptors. The mouth has chemoreceptors that detect the chemical solutions present. In chemical reactions, foods are the chemicals, and saliva is the solvent (if your mouth is dry, your taste is not discernible). Taste receptors are classified into five groups (perhaps more): sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savory. A savory taste is similar to grilled meat (also known as umami or glutamate). The reality is, however, that there are many different tastes since food often contains many complex chemicals that activate complex combinations of receptors, and our sense of smell is also a factor when it comes to how we perceive taste.

It’s discovered scientifically that genes largely affect taste preferences. If you have more taste buds than average, broccoli may seem bitter, but if you have fewer taste buds, you might enjoy the taste. Taste buds send impulses to the parietal-temporal cortex via the oral-glossopharyngeal (7th and 9th cranial) nerves. Taste contributes to the enjoyment of eating, as it makes the process of eating more enjoyable. As we age, the sense of taste may become less acute and some medications may interfere with it. People in their golden years (elderly people) and those with certain diseases are susceptible to these factors.

  1. Thrush (candidiasis) - Candida albicans (a yeast) grows on the tongue and mouth surface (candidiasis). Nearly anyone can get thrush, but it results more frequently in people who take steroids, those with suppressed immune systems, young children, and elderly people.
  2. Geographic tongue - The tongue is made up of colored spots and ridges that move over the surface over time. There is no harm in having a geographical tongue.
  3. Burning mouth/ burning tongue syndrome - Tongue and mouth burning are relatively common health issues. Strange tastes or sensations develop as a result of tongue burn or scalding. It is possible that a mild nerve problem can cause burning mouth syndrome, a harmless phenomenon.
  4. Glossitis atrophic (bald tongue): The tongue becomes smooth instead of bumpy. Anemia or deficiencies in B vitamins are sometimes the cause.
Structure and function of the nose

Outside the nasal cavity, there are upper and lower lateral cartilages and paired nasal bones. Anatomically, the nose consists of right and left sides. Located between both sides of the septum is the left and right side. In the nasal sidewall, turbinate is located inferiorly and middle with a superior or supreme turbinate bone appearing occasionally. On the lateral nasal wall, you will also find the opening to the sinuses behind the turbinate'. Under the anterior inferior aspect of the inferior turbinate, the lacrimal system drains into the nasal cavity.

An upper respiratory tract-like pseudostratified glandular columnar epithelium covers its ciliated pseudo-strata. As mucus flows from the nasal cavity and Para canal sinuses, one cilium beats in conjunction with another to transport it to the nasopharynx where it is swallowed. Mucus-producing cilia are necessary for mucous ciliary transport. Normal production of nasal mucus and paranasal sinus mucus is one quart of mucus per day. A nose or sinus infection can result in a greater production of mucus than usual. In mucus, one finds immunoglobulin A, immunoglobulin E, and muramidase.

Nasal membrane secretions and congestion are controlled by blood flow and autonomic nerve supply. Nasal innervation primarily comes from the autonomic nervous system; parasympathetic nerves interact with the autonomic nervous system to maintain resting tone and secretion. An important nerve supply originates at the inferior salivary nucleus through the sphenopalatine ganglion and proceeds along with the facial nerve distribution. Blood is supplied to the nose through a variety of arterial pathways, including the external and internal carotid arteries. Many mucosal surfaces of the nasal cavity are supplied with blood by the internal maxillary artery. There are arteries of the internal carotid artery system which supply a part of the nasal cavity posteriorly.

Directly passed through the cribriform plate, the olfactory nerve endings originate under the frontal lobe and pass directly into the nasal cavity. Superior turbinate, the cribriform region, and the septum contain olfactory nerves.

Functions and its sense to smell
Warm humid air is only brought into the lungs through the nose. As a primary filter for particles in inspired air, it serves as the first line of immunity by bringing inspired air into contact with mucous-coated membranes containing immunoglobulin A (IgA). When inspired air enters the nasal cavity, the olfactory nerves are exposed to it, which is intimately connected to the sense of taste, which results in a sense of smell.

Chemicals vaporized into the upper nasal cavities can be detected by the receptors for smell (olfaction). A scent receptor operates similarly to a taste receptor; research indicates that humans have more than a hundred different receptors. When vapor molecules are stimulated by olfactory receptors, impulses are generated and are transmitted by olfactory nerves (1st cranial) to the bulb of the olfactory organ. These impulses are transmitted through the temporal lobes' olfactory pathways. 10,000 different scents can be distinguished by the human brain among thousands of vapors, stimulating many different receptors.

It may seem impressive, but the sense of smell in humans is very underdeveloped in comparison with other animals. Dogs, for instance, can smell at about 2000 times their human counterparts. (Many people are said to live in worlds of sight, whereas dogs live in worlds of smell.) However, it is important to keep in mind that more than half of our sense of taste comes from our sense of smell. During a cold, food tends to taste terrible because your nasal cavities are stuffed up. It takes relatively little time for odors to adapt. At first, pleasant smells may be distinct, but they may soon fade away, and even unpleasant scents may fade with time.

Nasal obstructions -
The nose can also become blocked by abnormal anatomic structures like a deviated septum, enlarged bones near the nose, polyps, enlarged adenoids, or foreign bodies. It is possible to treat these conditions surgically by eliminating the blockage.
Chronic sinusitis - There are three types of chronic sinusitis: Chronic Sinusitis, Allergic Sinusitis, and Acute Sinusitis. An infection, an allergy, or an anatomical problem, such as a deviated septum, may cause sinusitis. Sinusitis that persists for longer than 12 weeks or occurs frequently is called chronic sinusitis. First and foremost, medication is usually prescribed. When antidepressants fail to relieve sinus problems, endoscopic sinus surgery is a good option. This minimally invasive procedure aims to widen the sinus drains through the nostrils.
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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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