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Last updated date: 27th Feb 2024
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The common passage present in between the digestive and respiratory systems which are located in the throat is the pharynx. It provides a connection between the mouth and oesophagus and the nose and larynx. It is found present in all vertebrates and the invertebrates such as annelids and arthropods etc.

The pharynx receives air from the nasal cavity and the air, food, and water from the oral cavity. Epiglottis, the flap of the cartilage prevents entering of the food and water to the larynx. 

What is Pharynx?

The pharynx is a cone-shaped passageway from the mouth to the oesophagus and larynx. In Greek pharynx means “Throat”. 

The thick fibres of the muscle and connective tissue help to attach the pharynx to the base of the skull and to the surrounding structures. The circular and longitudinal form of muscles are found on the walls of the pharynx in which the circular muscles help to push the food into the oesophagus and prevent the airflow while swallowing whereas the longitudinal muscles help to lift the walls while swallowing.

Pharynx Structure

The pharynx begins at the base of the skull and ends at the C6 vertebrate. 

Parts of the Pharynx: The human pharynx is divided into three 3 sections:

  1. Nasal pharynx: It is the anterior portion or back of the throat, it is connected to the next section through a passageway called the isthmus. 

  2. Oral pharynx: It begins at the back of the mouth which continues down to the epiglottis.

  3. Laryngeal pharynx: It begins at the epiglottis region and continues till the oesophagus. It helps in the passage of food to the oesophagus and air to the lungs. 

Oropharynx Function

The oropharynx lies behind the oral cavity that extends from the uvula to the hyoid bone. It is the middle compartment of the pharynx. The oropharynx includes all of these parts: tonsils, the base of the tongue, soft palate, and pharyngeal walls. It is the portion that is posterior to the oral cavity. It opens anterior to the mouth and will extend up to the hyoid bone. 

Oropharynx function is to help both the digestive system and respiratory system. 

  • It joins the oral cavity and the nasopharynx with the larynx and hypopharynx. 

  • It helps to make saliva that helps to keep the throat and mouth moist. 

  • Helps in the digestion of food.

Nasopharynx Function

It lies above the oral cavity, the adenoids, which are also known as the pharyngeal tonsils, are the lymphoid tissue structures that are located in the posterior wall of the nasopharynx. The auditory tube connects the middle ear to the pharynx. The nasopharynx has an opening at the pharyngeal opening of the auditory canal. 

Nasopharynx functions as an air passageway in the respiratory system. 

FAQs on Pharynx

1. Where is the Pharynx Located? What is the Function of the Pharynx?

Ans: The pharynx is located behind the oral and nasal cavity which continues to the larynx. The main function of the pharynx is to permit the passage of the swallowed solids and liquids into the oesophagus, or gullet, and it also conducts air to and from the trachea, or windpipe, during the process of respiration.

2. Write the Difference Between Pharynx and Larynx.




It is a membrane-bound cavity that is present behind the nose and mouth.

A muscular organ that helps in the passage of air.

It assists both the respiratory and digestive systems.

It assists the respiratory system.

The walls are made up of muscles.

The walls are made up of cartilages.

It has three regions: oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx.

It is made up of four cartilages: cricoid cartilage, thyroid cartilage, corniculate cartilage, and arytenoid cartilage.