What Are Two Functions of the Mucosa Found in the Nasal Cavity?

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The mucosa, or mucus membrane, that can be found in the nasal cavity is highly vascular, helping to warm and moisten incoming air and is important for smelling since it is connected to the first cranial nerve, also known as the olfactory nerve. The mucosa contains large spaces that swell under contact with allergic reactions or infections.

The mucosa secretes mucus. Found in the naval cavity, it contains bipolar neurons, also known as olfactory cells, which are very important for being able to have a sense of smell. The dendrites of these olfactory cells reach out of the surface of the mucosa. The axons of these cells are actually bundled together. There are about 20 of these bundled axons, and collectively they are known as the olfactory nerve or the first cranial nerve.

Anatomically, it passes through the cribriform plate found in the ethmoid bone, having synapse with the olfactory bulb, an essential neurological connection that allows the sensation of smell to work. The first cranial nerve can actually be tested by closing one nostril and holding up a smelly object to the other opened nostril to see if the sense of smell is still working. The nasal mucosa is also continuous the sinuses, which not only help warm and moisten the inhaled air, but also provide resonance to the voice and give the face more shape.