Throat Anatomy: Throat Parts, Pictures

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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About Jan Modric (249 Articles)
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  • Raj Verma

    In my oral cavity on the tonsil some white particle are collecting after increaseing the size of white particles it comes out from mouth and some pain in throat also. this white particles are very bad in smell. I want to know what is this? Is it cancer or some thing els. How can I treat tell me.

    • Jan Modric

      Raj Verma,

      white particles are probably pus, which can result from a chronic tonsil inflammation (chronic tonsillitis). A specialist for ear, throat and nose (ENT) can make a diagnosis and recommends appropriate treatment. I can’t recommend any home remedies without knowing the cause.

    • brooklyn23

      I know I’m so late 5yrs worth lol. But just in case you never found out and you read this, its called tonsil stones. Yes they smell horrible.

  • Louise

    i have just got over influenza A virus. i have smelly breath and my throat seems larger under my chin and sides there, i cant sleep well because of it can you help? i have a constant dry mouth. my voice has been slightly husky

    • Hi Louise. It is advisable that you see your doctor. You could have developed a secondary bacterial infection of the throat. This commonly follows a viral infection like the flu. Antibiotics may be necessary if it is a bacterial infection. Your doctor will first examine the area, possibly run further tests and then prescribe the appropriate treatment.

  • audrey barton

    I went to a walk in clinic a few days ago the doctor said i have a common cold, ive been taking some over the counter medicine like she said to help with some of the symptoms but now it hurts to swallow and the pain not only originates in the throat when i swallow it also hurts up into my ears. I dont want to go back to the doctor if its just part of this cold. Can someone please give me some advice or remedies to help with the pain?

    • Hi Audrey. It is was just the common cold and these new symptoms have developed days after then it is possible that you have now developed a secondary infection of the throat, which may be extending up the eustachian tube to the middle ear. The eustachian tube is a tiny passage that connects the back of the throat to the middle ear so microbes in the throat can easily travel up it. This secondary infection could be bacterial and would then require antibiotics which were not necessary for the common cold (since that was viral). You therefore need to see a doctor who can examine your throat and ears and reach a diagnosis. Delaying could lead to complications.

      • audrey barton

        I went to the doctors before recieving this. It had turned into strep and an ear infection ontop of bronchitis second doctor Was alot more affective at getting me to feel better

        • Hi Audrey. Glad to hear that you are feeling better. Secondary bacterial infections of the ear, throat and lower airways (bronchitis) are common following viral infections like the common cold. Antibiotics are necessary for these secondary bacterial infections.

  • andy klompenburg

    Yesterday at about 330 I had a turbinate reduction. Upon waking my throat was terrible sore as it is also now the next day. I had packing placed in my nose for about 4 hours then removed. I had bleeding afterwords but let it drain on a nose sling for the next day. Its now stopped and all the blood crusty’s removed with saline flushing with a ear bulb. All day I notice red blood at the back of my throat behind my tongue. Is this draining from my sinuses or from my irritated throat. Should I make my doctor aware?

  • fan of Whitney

    My epiglottis is irritated, and it feels like something is stuck in my throat. Any ideas why this is happening? Feels like a pill is stuck. Any help appreciated!

    • Hi Fan. How can you be certain that it is your epiglottis? Many throat conditions appear with similar symptoms. It may be an infection or it could be irritation related to allergies like with post nasal drip. Another common cause is acid reflux. Consult with your doctor to be sure.

  • Victoria chavez

    Hi! I really need some help…so 2 days ago I woke up with a headache and sore throat and it’s been the second day and I still have both of those problems. Well I check my mouth and I’m not sure but on the left side I think my tonsil? Close to my uvula there’s like white little looking pimples.. There not pimples but they are little bumps I felt them but I don’t think o have a sore throat it just hurts because of those things …what is it?

    • HI Victoria. Hopefully your symptoms have resolved by now. Many acute viral infections may present in this manner.The throat inflammation and uvula symptoms are not uncommon although most people do not notice it on their own. If it is persisting past a few days or the symptoms are very severe then it is advisable that you see a doctor.

  • apple

    For about a week and a half I have had the feeling that something is stuck in my middle to lower throat. Thought allergies at first though I take allergy meds on a daily basis but swticjed to benedryl for a couple days. No relief. Next I thought acid reflux though I take nexium daily I tried tums and something a little stronger than maylox. I went to urgent care because I couldnt wait any longer. They rushed me to ER. Where they gave me a chest xray (to see if somethings stuck but never thought I had something actaully stuck just the sensation.) It makes me nauseous and vomit and sends me into oanic atracks because somethings i feel like i cant breath. They also used a hand held scope at er that only reached vocal coards and a esphagus cocktail with numbing agents and amti inflammatory steriods. Only to wake up feeling worse today… at a loss of what it could be. Set up appointment for tomorrow with a GI dr. Hope I get answers. Im a 25 year old female with hoshimotos hypothyroidism

  • Johnny inpain

    Hello to you all, i am a 27 years old male, I’ve been experiencing weird sensations in my soft palate and my uvula for about 4 months now, the sensation in question is a mixture of numbness and discomfort, i can’t swallow right nor can i breath without feeling a slight numb pain, also talking has became a hard thing to do, my whole throat hurts, and the weirdest thing of all , is that the back of my tongue is constantly numb too, i got myself checked by many doctors, and all they did is give me allergy pills and antibiotics, one of them told me that i have a dystrophy but nothing helped and my condition i fear is getting worse overtime.
    I’d like to add that i am a smoker, though i am trying to quite.
    If you can just point me in the right direction into figuring out what’s wrong with me, and how to avoid making it worse please.

    Thank you very much for your help.

  • YoYo

    Hi I have had something in my throat nearrly for two weeks without other symptoms and I can see the epiglottis when I see through the mouth, I think that’t the one cause this irritation
    How can I treat this?

  • YoYo

    Hi I have had something in my throat nearly for two weeks without other symptoms and I can see the epiglottis when I see through the mouth, I think that’t the one cause this irritation
    How can I treat this?

  • martin Gries

    I’m just getting over bronchitis that caused heavy coughing. When the flem came up I would spit it it out. However (and this has happened before) this time it was like a piece of my throat came up into the back of my mouth. I had to drink something to get it to go back down This happened several years ago and I actually had it between my fingers in my mouth and was thinking about pulling it out..It seemed to be about the size of a pea or bigger and was attached by a thin cord. It felt like it was attached to something behind my tongue or maybe further down. Thinking about it, I decided not to rip it out for fear of it bleeding down my throat. This doesn’t happen unless I have been coughing a lot. I had my tonsils out when I was about 7 years old and wondered if the surgeon perhaps didn’t get it all. What do you suspect?

  • Christa

    I have had an extreme sore throat on and off for 2 months now. It hurts to swallow, my voice sounds like it’s going, I have a dry cough, and my ears feel like they are on fire. I’ve been on three rounds of antibiotics with and antibiotic shot. I will get better but then it will come back. What could this be? I test negative for strep.

  • Karijt

    I’m not sure anything crazy is going on for sure or not, i just wanted some advice before i actually spent money at the clinic. Orally, i’ve had a sore throat for a while, white/yellow patches come and go. This morning i woke up to find my tongue was covered in yellow, i scraped it off and brused most of it off. No pain. No itching, burning, or tingling around the mouth. They were chapped for a while, not at all now. Lymph nodes are swollen. I feel like i have a hair stuck in my mouth, but there’s nothing there. Under my tongue, it feels like i have sores but i see nothing there. I also have white/yellow stuff on my tongue. Ive tried brushing it off when i brush my teeth and some comes off but not all, i am able to scrap it off but not completely without making myself gag. There is no fever. Just everything above. Help?

  • Ogunlade Temitope

    Hi please am feeling a kind of movement in my throat whenever i nod my head and in attempt to swallow my sputum it gets stucked somewhere and after few secs, i feel the object….What could this be please?

    • Hi Ogunlade. This could be due to various factors as outlined in this article
      It may be an irritation of the throat, a mass, problems with the nerves or muscles that control swallowing or just a sensation of a lump in the throat without any actual lump (known as globus pharyngeus). You should consult with a doctor because the throat needs to be carefully examined to ascertain the cause.

  • Pup007

    i have this irritating symptom going to see doc tomorrow but Im I am very healthy eat right ride 300k a week don’t smoke…drink moderately…I have this lump feeling or what I describe as a cold know when your swallowing excess mucus…when I lie down…i start to over swallow…I have no pain or discharge. I am 57 years old, have never smoked. Is this just some reflux? anything to worry about? or will this pass on its own. I have also had some minor digestive issues…just loose stools….odd upset stomach. Can you please put my mind at ease as this is very worrisome to me?

    • Hi Pup. Despite your healthy lifestyle, your age can put you at risk of various conditions, some of which may be serious. Getting these symptoms checked early can make a difference. We cannot provide a diagnosis but can simply guide you. From what you describe this could be post nasal drop. You mention acid reflux and that as well could be a possiblity as reflux may cause water brash (excess salivation). However, there is no way of saying for sure through an online platform. Speak to your doctor as soon as possible.