Are your ears and nose getting bigger, or is it just an illusion?

Compare yourself to your grandparents, and you’ll notice a large difference. The size of their noses and ears.
Notice how they’re so much bigger? Are our noses and ears continually growing? Why are they so big on older people?

Except for the replacement of new cells, your hands, feet and the rest of your body all stop growing. Around the age of 21, you’re as tall as you’re ever going to be. You may have also heard that your ears and nose never stop growing. In reality, our ears and nose do get bigger, but technically, it’s not because they’re growing. So how does this happen?

It all has to do with cartilage. Within our body, we have four different types of tissue. Epithelium, nervous, muscle and connective. Cartilage is a part of the connective tissue. It’s all around our body, and it’s one of our more critical components. It connects the joints between our bones like our knees and elbows.

It’s between the vertebrae of our spine and of course, in our ears and nose. It essentially acts as the “glue” for our body. It’s firm but much more flexible than your bones.

That’s why you can bend your nose and ears. Without cartilage, our lives would be very painful. The bones in your knees and elbows would constantly be grinding up against each other every time you moved.

As we age, the cartilage in our ears and our nose gets heavier and less elastic. Because it doesn’t receive any blood, it can’t heal itself.

This makes it start to sag as time goes on. Now, combine this with the Earth’s unavoidable gravity, and our ears and nose slowly, very slowly begin to droop. And the heavier our ears get, the easier it is for gravity to bring them down.

So, that’s how the ears and the nose get larger. Although they technically aren’t growing the way they would in your teens, it’s estimated that our ears sag around fifth of a millimeter (0.0087 inches) every year. It may not sound like much, but it does add up. Not only that, but perception plays a significant role in our growing ears and nose as well.

That’s because as we age, other parts of our face change. Our lips get smaller, and our skin becomes thinner, resulting in a smaller looking face. And that’s what makes grandpa and grandma’s ears and nose appear more prominent than they actually are.

Just one of the many joys of aging. And there are tons more. Like did you know, that the older you get, the less you sweat?

Speaking of ears, did you know that you never stop hearing, even when you sleep? Your brain just chooses to ignore the incoming noise to let you get a good night’s rest.