The respiratory and digestive systems are two essential organ systems. These vital systems help us get the nutrients we need from food, maintain healthy blood pH levels, and keep our bodies functioning at peak performance.
The respiratory system is responsible for taking oxygen into people’s bodies when they breathe in and getting rid of carbon dioxide when they breathe out. In addition, the digestive system breaks down food into nutrients. It then absorbs those nutrients and distributes them to other organs. Together these two systems ensure a healthy supply of oxygen to fuel all of our bodily functions while also removing waste products like carbon dioxide.
These two body systems have their unique organs, but there is one organ they share: the pharynx or the throat.
The pharynx is a passageway that connects the nose and mouth to the esophagus. It is about 5 inches long and is located in the neck behind the tongue. The pharynx has three main parts:
The Nasopharynx –
This part of the pharynx is located behind the nose and is responsible for filtering the air as it enters the body.
The Oropharynx –
This part of the pharynx is located behind the mouth and helps to moisten and filter air as it enters the lungs.
The Laryngopharynx –
This part of the pharynx is located at the base of the throat and goes by many names, including the voice box or Adam’s apple. The laryngopharynx is responsible for carrying air and food to the esophagus.
The pharynx plays a vital role in the respiratory and digestive systems, so it’s essential to keep it healthy. Unfortunately, because the pharynx is located in such a vulnerable spot, it is susceptible to many different diseases and disorders.
Here are five of the most common throat problems and diseases:
Throat cancer occurs when cancerous cells form in the tissues of the throat. The throat comprises many different types of tissue, including mucus membranes, salivary glands, lymph nodes, and more. Throat cancer can develop in these issues, making it difficult to treat.
Early symptoms of throat cancer include a persistent cough, hoarseness, and difficulty swallowing. If these symptoms are left untreated, cancer can spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs and brain.
Smoking is the leading cause of throat cancer, so quitting is the best way to prevent it. Other risk factors for throat cancer include excessive alcohol consumption, exposure to secondhand smoke, and HPV infection.
Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils, which are two small glands located at the back of the throat. The tonsils help trap bacteria and viruses that enter the body through the nose and mouth. Tonsillitis occurs when these bacteria and viruses infect the tonsils, causing them to swell.
Symptoms of tonsillitis include sore throat, fever, headache, and fatigue. The tonsils may also appear red and swollen. Tonsillitis is usually treated with antibiotics, but in some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the tonsils.
The best way to prevent tonsillitis is to practice good dental hygiene. You should also break down your food into smaller chunks. Visit your local dentist if you’re experiencing tonsilitis for more than two weeks. It might be an underlying dental disease that you don’t know about.
Pharyngitis is an inflammation of the pharynx, which is the passageway that connects the nose and mouth to the esophagus. Viruses, bacteria, and allergies can cause pharyngitis.
Symptoms of pharyngitis include sore throat, difficulty swallowing, and swollen lymph nodes. The throat may also appear red and inflamed. Pharyngitis is usually treated with antibiotics, but in some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the tonsils.
Much like tonsilitis, pharyngitis might be due to poor dental health. So the best way to avoid it is to improve your dental hygiene.
Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx, which is the voice box. Laryngitis can be caused by several things, including infection, acid reflux, and vocal strain.
Symptoms of laryngitis include a hoarse voice, trouble speaking, and throat pain. You may also experience coughing or a sore throat. Laryngitis usually resolves on its own after a few days or weeks. However, if it is caused by an underlying medical condition like acid reflux or vocal strain, you will need to visit your doctor for treatment options.
The best way to avoid laryngitis is to practice proper vocal hygiene and reduce the risk of overusing your voice. This includes limiting shouting and screaming activities like attending concerts or sporting events. You should also try not to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol excessively as these can irritate the vocal cords.
Epiglottitis is an inflammation of the epiglottis, which is a small flap of tissue that covers the trachea. Epiglottitis can be caused by a number of things, including infection, acid reflux, and allergies.
Symptoms of epiglottitis include trouble swallowing, drooling, and fever. The throat may also appear red and swollen. Epiglottitis is a serious medical condition that requires immediate treatment. If left untreated, epiglottitis can block the airway and cause suffocation.
The best way to avoid epiglottitis is to avoid your allergens and reduce your chances of getting an allergy. Also, practicing good dental hygiene can never hurt, so make sure to do that.
If you are experiencing any of these common throat problems, it’s important to take care of yourself by getting enough rest, drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding irritants, and seeing a doctor as soon as possible. Your body will thank you!