Nose Airflow a Complicated Process

It's more complex than air movement over aircraft wings, study says

THURSDAY, Jan. 6, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- The movement of air through your nose is more complicated than the airflow around an aircraft wing, says an Imperial College London study.

Not only does the study provide insight into the link between nose air movement and smell, it may also help in the development of new ways to unblock noses and help people breathe more easily. And it could lead to new methods of delivering drugs through the nose straight into the bloodstream, the researchers said.

The researchers ran fluid through a transparent 3-D model of the nose that was constructed using information from computed tomography (CT) scans of people with healthy noses. The model is twice the size of a normal nose.

Liquid containing tiny, colored beads was circulated through the model nose to simulate airflow. The movement of the beads was recorded on fast digital cameras.

"People are used to the flows around an aeroplane being complicated but that is in some ways simpler than understanding the flows inside the nose. The geometry of the nose is highly complex, with no straight lines or simple curves like an aircraft wing and the regime of airflow is not simply laminar or turbulent," researcher Dr. Denis Doorly said in a prepared statement.

The study appears in the January issue of Business, the magazine of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about smell.

SOURCE: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, news release, Jan. 6, 2005
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