What is the Pharynx and its function

The pharynx is the tube that connects the back of the nose and mouth with the esophagus. The pharynx is part of the respiratory system and digestive system.

What’s that

The pharynx, or throat, is the air and food passageway that connects the nose and mouth to the respiratory tract and digestive system.

Here are some important points about the pharynx:

  • The pharynx is a tube located behind the nose and mouth, and in front of the esophagus.
  • The pharynx has an important role in respiratory and digestive functions. In respiratory function, the pharynx plays a role in channeling air from the nose and mouth to the esophagus. In digestive function, the pharynx helps in swallowing food and drink into the esophagus.
  • The pharynx consists of three main parts, namely the upper pharynx (nasopharynx), middle pharynx (oropharynx), and lower pharynx (laryngopharynx). Each part has a different function and structure.
  • The nasopharynx is located at the top of the pharynx and is connected to the nasal cavity. Its function is as a pathway for air when breathing.
  • The olopharynx is located in the middle part of the pharynx and is connected to the oral cavity and tonsils. Its function is as an air passageway and food channel.
  • The laryngopharynx is located at the bottom of the pharynx and is connected to the larynx or throat. Its function is as a food channel that leads to the esophagus.
  • The pharynx is lined with a layer of mucus and has muscles that help in the swallowing process and move food or drink down the esophagus.
  • Infection of the pharynx can cause conditions such as sore throat (pharyngitis), tonsillitis, or streptococcal pharyngitis.

In the human body system, the pharynx is an important channel that plays a role in the respiratory and digestive processes.


The pharynx has several important functions in the human body:

  1. **Respiratory and Digestive Routes:**

The pharynx serves as a common route for air entering and leaving the body during the breathing process. In addition, it is also the initial part of the digestive tract, allowing food to pass from the mouth to the esophagus and on to the stomach.

  1. **Airway Maintenance:**

The pharynx has an epiglottis, a flap of cartilage that covers the airway during swallowing. This helps prevent food or liquid from entering the airways and lungs.

  1. **Sound Resonance:**

The pharynx contributes to human voice production. In the process of sound formation, vibrations of the vocal cords in the larynx (voice box) are produced, and sound resonance occurs in the pharynx and oral cavity.

  1. **Immune System Defense:**

The pharynx plays a role in the defense of the immune system. There is lymphoid tissue in the pharynx that helps fight infection and involves the tonsils (tonsils) which are in the upper part of the pharynx.

  1. **Air Cleaning and Humidifying:**

The pharynx helps clean and moisten the air that enters the body during breathing. The presence of mucus in the pharynx helps capture dust, particles and microorganisms from the air.

  1. **Defense Against Infection:**

The amygdala and tonsils, which are found in the pharynx, are part of the immune system and function as a defense against bacterial and viral infections that can enter through the respiratory and digestive tract.

  1. **Ingestion:**

The pharynx plays an important role in the process of swallowing food or drink. Once food or drink reaches the pharynx, appropriate stimulation causes the pharyngeal muscles to contract, pushing the food down into the esophagus.

The pharynx is an integral part of the respiratory and digestive systems, and its complex functions help maintain a balance between allowing breathing, swallowing food, and protecting the airway from potential harm.