Pharynx - Definition

Ask a question


The pharynx is a tube belonging to what is called the upper aerodigestive tract. It is located deep behind the mouth, above the larynx and oesophagal opening. The pharynx has three primary functions: transmitting food from the mouth to the oesophagus during the process of swallowing, which makes it part of the digestive system; it also allows air to pass through from the mouth and nose towards the larynx located in the neck, and then the trachea, which makes it part of the respiratory system; finally, it plays a role in speech ability, influencing the sounds emitted by the vocal cords located in the larynx. There are three elements making up the pharynx, which are, from top to bottom: the nasopharynx, which communicates with the nasal cavities, the oropharynx, connected to the mouth, and the laryngopharynx (or hypopharynx).