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Epiglottis - Definition


The epiglottis is a flat, cartilaginous structure located behind the root of the tongue and connected to the larynx. The role of this moveable element is to slide upwards when the air passages open and to block the glottis during swallowing or the ingestion of liquid and food. In this way, the epiglottis prevents ingested material from entering the respiratory passages and directs inhaled air into the lungs. In certain individuals, an overdeveloped epiglottis may be the cause of sleep apnea (diminished respiratory flow during sleep).