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The nose and nasal cavity make up the first portion of the upper respiratory tract. Their locations and structures are best viewed when the head is shown in sagittal section.

The nose (or external nose) is a protrusion from the face that allows air to enter and exit the respiratory system.

Two openings called anterior nares (or nostrils; exterior nares) allow air to enter the respiratory system. Individually, each opening is referred to as an anterior naris.

Internal to the nose is large open chamber called the nasal cavity (cavitas nasi).

As inhaled air passes through the nasal cavity, it is warmed, moistened, and cleaned so it can travel safely into other parts of the respiratory tract. The nasal cavity also contains structures to detect chemical odorants and resonate the voice.

Inhaled air passes posteriorly from the nasal cavity into the pharynx through two posterior nares (or choanae; internal nares). Individually, each opening is referred to as a posterior naris.

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Respiratory System Zones & Divisions