The Surprising Reason You Have a Cold Nose

If you’re braving blustery winter weather and the accompanying chills you may be feeling colder than usual this time of year. But, what about when you’re warm indoors and you have a cold nose? Obviously, the weather isn’t to blame so why does your nose get cold? According to a new study you may be overthinking or feeling overwhelmed.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham Institute for Aerospace Technology conducted a study in which they use thermal imaging to observe facial temperatures and their connection to mental workload. Participants were asked to carry out mental tasks of increasing difficulty. The thermal imaging showed a clear link between temperature drops of the area above the sinuses and around the nose as the mental tasks became more difficult, suggesting a link between overthinking or feeling overwhelmed.

 The study found that nose temperature was linked to brain activity and when people have a cold nose it is a sign that the brain is overworking and diverting blood to the brain. The brain needs a constant and sufficient supply of blood to supply oxygen and nutrients to keep it functioning at prime levels. After all, your brain controls all of your bodily functions, moods, memories and intellectual processes. Your brain is truly miraculous. It regulates billions of different bodily functions at the same time, every second of every day. So, it’s not surprising that your body, in its wisdom, would divert blood flow from your nose to your brain when you’re under mental strain.

In an interview with the National Post, lead researcher Alistair Ritchie said “With this accurate way to estimate workload we can develop methods that will assist the operator (of aircraft and aerospace technologies) at times of maximum stress.” This research along with facial thermography could be used to monitor and reduce pilot fatigue and prevent possible plane crashes. But, it could have widespread applications for many other industries including emergency medical staff in hospitals or other workplaces.

Obviously, the importance of oxygen can’t be understated as our bodies need oxygen to survive and the brain is no different. But, few people recognize the importance of adequate nutrition to the building and maintenance of a healthy brain. These nutrients are carried in the bloodstream to the brain to ensure it has the energy to perform its functions as well as the building blocks of neurons (brain and nerve cells), neurotransmitters (the brain’s chemical messengers), and other components of a healthy brain.

The research also demonstrates the importance of giving the brain a much-needed rest if your work is highly intellectual or stressful in nature. While you may not have access to facial thermography, a quick assessment of nose temperature may be all you need to recognize it might be time for a break or to participate in some other brain relaxing activity, such as deep breathing, massage, exercise, walking, meditating and the use of some natural relaxation remedies like lavender, melissa or valerian root. While these latter herbs can be helpful for relaxation it is important not to use them while being involved in tasks that require concentration or alertness, such as driving or operating heavy equipment. Follow the package instructions for the herb you select should you wish to use them.


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