Why Our Ears and Nose Continue to Get Bigger as We Grow Older
When we are young, it makes us proud to see that the spaces between the marks that our parents put on the door frame to measure our height are getting higher and higher. However, there comes a time when the last mark stays in the same place and there are no more because we stop growing. But that doesn’t happen with every part of our body. In fact, our ears and nose, for some strange reason, continue getting bigger and bigger. And we can’t help but wonder if they will ever stop growing. Well... you should know: they will never stop increasing in size.
Bright Side got curious about why our nose and ears won’t stop growing when the rest of our body does, so we decided to scour the internet for answers, and here’s what we found. If you’re a man, keep reading, we’ve got some bad news for you...
To hear better
Well, maybe the Wolf took things a little too far when he said that he had huge ears so that he could better hear what Little Red Riding Hood was saying. In any case, if the Wolf were a human being, he would surely have big ears too. That’s because the older he would be, the bigger his ears would get, according to a study done by researchers in Bromley, UK.
They keep growing and growing and growing...
According to another study carried out by German scientists back in 2007, if you were to measure the outer ear of a newborn baby, it turns out that it’s actually larger than its head in proportion to his or her body. Not only that, but ears will continue growing in a generally linear fashion throughout their entire life. However, this growth begins to slow down by the time the child turns 8 to 10 years of age. Once people become 85 years old, their ears reach the highest average length they’ll have.
Slowly, but steadily
The average ear growth of most people is very minimal, so it’s hardly noticeable. However, it is consistent over the years. That’s what researchers discovered after measuring the ears of a randomly selected group of 206 of their patients over the age of 30. They then calculated that the ears grew by an average of 0.22 mm per year for about 50 years. In other words, a 30-year-old can expect that by the time he or she reaches 80 years of age, his or her ears will have grown a little more than one centimeter in length.
Gravity is not the only culprit.
The first explanation that comes to mind is that gravity is the one and only culprit behind ear growth. Well, if you thought this too, it could be that you were mistaken. With the passage of time, we also suffer from a loss of skin elasticity. Our earlobes droop, a fact that can be accentuated if a person wears very heavy earrings on a consistent basis. In addition, it not only lengthens, but also widens, as the circumference of the ear increases by an average of 0.51 mm per year, most likely due to the aging of collagen in your body, which is the most abundant protein humans have in their bodies.
It happens to noses too.
However, noses are really not far behind either. According to another study, the human nose also continues growing with age, but, mind you, not all of it. The authors of the study concluded that nasal volume, area, and linear distances increased from childhood to old age. But, interestingly, the angle of the nasal tip decreased as a function of age. And, indeed, if you thought that, over time, men had much larger noses in general than women, you were right.
Men have a disadvantage on this one.
If you’re a man and have wondered why your nose is bigger than that of the women around you, a study from the University of Iowa gives some more information about this. Researchers believe the difference in size is due to the different constitutions and energy demands of the bodies according to their genders. Generally, men have more lean muscle mass, which requires more oxygen to grow and maintain muscle tissue. According to the authors, prominent noses can inhale and transport more oxygen for the blood to supply and distribute it throughout the muscles.
Bonus: Beware of the selfies
If you’ve noticed that your nose looks much bigger in that selfie you wanted to post on your social media, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. According to a study, taking selfies at a distance of approximately 30 centimeters from your face increases the perceived size of your nose by almost 30%. In fact, a recent survey revealed that many people resort to cosmetic procedures to actually change the appearance they perceive in the selfies they take of themselves, as well as because of other photos posted on social media.
Have you noticed that your ears and nose are growing? Have you compared pictures from when you were a kid to now? Have your ears and nose grown according to the rates stated in these studies?