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The common passage through which both food and air gets into our body is the Pharynx. Though, pharynx works in both respiratory and digestive systems, we don’t give that poor organ enough credit for its work. Today we will learn 20 Interesting Pharynx Facts and increase our knowledge. So, let’s begin…

[Before we proceed: The featured image shows parts of Pharynx (they together form the Pharynx. The image was released by Cancer Research UK, and it is available through Public Domain]

Interesting Pharynx Facts: 1-5

1. Buccal cavity (oral cavity) and the nasal passage opens into Pharynx. Pharynx opens into esophagus of the digestive system and opens into larynx of the respiratory system.

2. It is an organ which is found in both vertebrates and non-vertebrates. However, the structure may vary from species to species.

3. The word “Pharynx” is derived from the Greek words “Pharunx” or “Pharung”. Its plural form is pharynges.

4. It is almost conical in structure. It starts from the base of the skull. It is surrounded by cricoid cartilage in the front and seventh cervical vertebra from the back.

5. It is nearly 12.5 cm long or 5 inches long. It is a musculomembranous tube which has its greatest breadth at the base of the skull from where it starts and is narrowed down at the Esophagus.

Interesting Pharynx Facts: 6-10

6. Pharynx has connections with seven cavities which are 2 nasal cavities, 2 tympanic cavities (cavity which surrounds the bones present in the middle ear), mouth, esophagus, larynx.

7. It has three linings viz., mucous, fibrous and muscular. The innermost coat is the muscular. It has five muscles which are as follows – lower constrictor (Constrictor pharyngis inferior), middle constrictor (Constrictor pharyngis medius), superior constrictor (Constrictor pharyngis superior), Stylopharyngeus and Salpingopharyngeus.

8. Then comes the fibrous layer which is thick in the anterior region and gradually decreases in its thickness and completely diminishes in the posterior region.

9. The mucous coat lines the mouth, larynx, auditory tubes and the nasal cavities. Racemose mucous glands are present under the mucous membrane. They are abundantly present in the upper part of the pharynx especially at the orifices of the auditory tubes.

10. It can be divided into three parts viz., nasopharynx, oropharynx and laryngopharynx.

Interesting Pharynx Facts: 11-15

11. Nasopharynx starts from the interior nostril and ends at the region of uvula. Uvula is an outgrowth which is present between the pharynx and posterior edge of the oral cavity. Uvula prevents food entering into the nasal passage.

12. Adenoids or pharyngeal tonsils are present in the hind wall of the nasopharynx. Auditory tube from middle ear opens into nasopharynx. Auditory tube’s function is to balance the atmospheric pressure. Waldeyer’s tonsil ring is also present in the nasopharynx. It is often thought it doesn’t allow micro organisms to enter the body during swallowing or inhaling.

13. Between the uvula and the hyoid bone lies the oropharynx. Tongue and two sets of palantine tonsils and lingual tonsils are present in the oropharynx.

14. Laryngopharynx is present between epiglottis and the esophagus.

15. When the food is about to be swallowed, the pharynx moves upward and all the muscles are relaxed so that the food can enter the pharynx.

Interesting Pharynx Facts:16-20

16. Once the bolus (food mixed with saliva) enters the pharynx, it moves downwards and the muscles contract so that the food moves down the pharynx to the esophagus.

17. The respiratory function of pharynx is to send the inhaled air to the wind pipe or trachea.

18. It performs both the functions efficiently with the help of a flap like structure called epiglottis. When the food is swallowed the epiglottis closes the opening of trachea so that the food doesn’t enter in the trachea.

19. Pharynx also helps the eustachian tube or the auditory tube to maintain balance of the middle ear and it helps larynx in the process of vocalization or producing sounds.

20. Like any other organ, pharynx is also vulnerable to many diseases, from common or easily treatable disease like pharyngitis or inflammation of pharynx to pharyngeal cancer. Regular check up of pharynx is not a bad idea, after all.

Sources: 1, 2

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