Esophagus – that little-talked-about massive organ in our body, without which the food cannot pass into our stomach – is really a fascinating organ. It is long and yet it is fast in its job. It is least cared organ and can face a number of diseases that can lead to life-threatening situations. In this article on esophagus facts, we are going to take a look at the organ’s jobs, structure etc. You may already know them and if you do, consider these facts as a refresher course for your memory!
Fascinating Esophagus Facts: 1-5
1. Esophagus is a long tube like structure through which food passes from pharynx to the stomach. It is commonly called as food pipe or gullet. Esophagus is derived from the Greek word Oisohagus, which means gullet.
2. It starts from pharynx, goes down through neck, thorax and diaphragm to ultimately open into stomach.
3. It travels behind the lower part of the larynx, trachea, heart and passes through diaphragm (where an abdominal cavity is present for the esophagus to pass) and an inch below the diaphragm lies stomach and there its journey ends.
4. In adults, the food pipe can be 8-10 inches in length and one inch in diameter. It is just not a hollow tube which is used for passing food from pharynx to stomach but it is made of muscles which contract to push the food towards the stomach. This movement of muscles is called Peristalsis.
5. Did you know that Peristalsis happens even if you are standing on your own head or hanging upside down like a monkey? However, trying this is not really a good idea.
Fascinating Esophagus Facts: 6-10
6. There is another process called as Reverse Peristalsis. It is the reverse of Peristalsis. Here the food moves from duodenum to stomach, travels all the way up to mouth through esophagus and is expelled out. We call that as throwing up or vomiting. It is also called as Retro peristalsis.
7. Peristalsis just doesn’t happen in the esophagus. It happens across the alimentary canal. The urge to defecate is also the result of Peristalsis.
8. Not just that it has muscles, it also has 2 sphincters (Sphincter is a circular muscle which allows any material to pass through it if relaxed and when contracted, it constricts the passage of the material). The first sphincter is present where the Esophagus starts. It is called as upper esophageal sphincter. It is voluntary sphincter meaning we can control this sphincter.
9. The second one is where it is connected to the stomach and as guessed, it is called as the lower esophageal sphincter. This one is involuntary. It cannot be controlled.
10. Each sphincter has its own function. The upper esophageal sphincter’s function is to control breathing, swallowing, belching and vomiting. The lower esophageal sphincter’s function is to prevent food from getting into esophagus again once it enters stomach.