What Is the Throat?

The throat comprises of air and food passageways lying behind the nasal cavity and mouth and in the neck. It consists (from the top to the bottom) of the pharynx, epiglottis, larynx (voice box with vocal cords) and the upper part of the esophagus and trachea (Picture 1).

Throat parts: pharynx, epiglottis, larynx, trachea, esophagus

Picture 1: Throat parts: pharynx, epiglottis, larynx, esophagus
(trachea extends downwards from the larynx)
(source: Wikimedia)

Parts of the Throat

The pharynx is a muscular tube lying behind the nasal cavity and mouth, carrying air from the nose toward the larynx and food from the mouth toward the esophagus. Pharynx is what your doctor can see through your mouth during “checking your throat” (Picture 2).

Picture of normal, healthy throat with tonsils

Picture 2: Normal, healthy throat, as seen through the mouth
(source: Wikimedia)

The epiglottis is a muscular fold that covers the entrance of the larynx during swallowing, thus preventing food from entering the lungs.

The larynx (voice box) is a tube made of muscles and cartilages and carrying air from the nose and throat toward the trachea. When your doctor checks your throat using a small mirror, he can see vocal cords within your larynx. From outside, larynx looks as a vertical tube in the front of your neck, being prominent in its upper part in men (Adam’s apple) and moving up and down during swallowing.

The trachea (windpipe) is a tube made of muscles and cartilages, carrying air from the larynx to bronchi.

The esophagus is a muscular tube carrying food from the pharynx toward the stomach.

Parts of the esophagus and trachea lying behind the breastbone are not considered as parts of the throat.

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Article reviewed by Dr. Greg. Last updated on January 16, 2010