When you swallow, a piece of cartilage called the epiglottis closes off the trachea, or windpipe, to prevent food from obstructing your airway, according to About.com. The epiglottis flap normally rests in a slightly upright position above the larynx, or voice box. The epiglottis temporarily folds over the larynx opening as food or beverages enter the throat, protecting the trachea and lungs, MedlinePlus states.Know More
Food or small objects can accidentally enter the windpipe, especially if a person laughs or inhales while eating, according to HowStuffWorks. In most cases, food completely bypasses the respiratory system and continues down the digestive tract by entering the esophagus.
A blocked airway may interfere with healthy breathing, causing symptoms ranging from wheezing and choking to loss of consciousness and permanent brain damage, says MedlinePlus. Parents are discouraged from giving babies and toddlers small toy pieces or foods because these objects can become choking hazards. Physicians are often able to remove objects stuck in the trachea using medical instruments, but in urgent situations, they may need to insert a breathing tube or perform a tracheostomy by making a surgical incision in the neck.
The epiglottis is not invulnerable. Prior to the widespread use of influenza vaccines, many young children suffered from bacterial infections in this area, according to About.com. A condition known as epiglottitis can cause uncomfortable inflammation, making it difficult to breathe and preventing the body from circulating oxygen.Learn more about Human Anatomy
According to MedlinePlus, the epiglottis is a flap of skin that prevents food and drink from going down the windpipe and into the lungs. It's located behind the tongue and in front of the voice box, or larynx.Full Answer >
The trachea is a respiratory pathway that funnels air towards the lungs, while the esophagus is a digestive organ that carries food to the stomach, according to HowStuffWorks. Food passing through the digestive tract to the esophagus can accidentally enter the trachea, making the airway feel blocked. As a preventive measure, a flap of flexible tissue, known as the epiglottis, covers the trachea opening when food is swallowed.Full Answer >
The trachea is the tube in the throat that connects the mouth and nose to the lungs. It is also called a windpipe, and its function is to transport the air a person breathes in through his nose or mouth into the lungs. Without the trachea, the lungs do not receive oxygen, and humans cannot survive.Full Answer >
The internal nares serve as a filter for the respiration system, keeping particles from making it into the trachea and the lungs. In addition to cleaning out the air, the internal nares also provide warmth and moisture to the air as it makes its way to the lungs.Full Answer >