Facts About the Throat



  • The upper airways include the nose and the sinuses, the mouth and the pharynx (throat).
  • The lower airways include the larynx (see vocal cords), the trachea (windpipe) and the airways of the lungs.
  • The sinuses are air chambers within the bones of the skull that form the forehead and face.
  • After air is taken in through the nose or mouth, it travels down the throat, down the windpipe held open by cartilage rings, and into the lungs.
  • The soft palate is a flap of tissue at the back of the mouth, which is pressed upwards when you swallow to stop food getting into your nose.
  • Your throat is the tube that runs down through your neck from the back of your nose and mouth.
  • Your throat branches in two at the bottom. One branch, the oesophagus, takes food to the stomach. The other, the larynx, takes air to the lungs.
  • The epiglottis is the flap that tilts down to the larynx to stop food entering it when you swallow.
  • The tonsils and the adenoids are bunches of lymph nodes (see lymphatic system) that swell to help fight ear, nose and throat infections, especially in young children.
  • The adenoids are at the back of the nose, and the tonsils are at the back of the upper throat.
  • If tonsils or adenoids swell too much, they are sometimes taken out.