The pharynx, highlighted here in red, is more commonly called the throat.

The nose and mouth lead to a passageway called the pharynx. The pharynx is the scientific name for what most people call the throat. This passageway is shared by the respiratory and the digestive systems. The pharynx receives air from the nose and mouth to allow the respiratory system to do its work. It also accepts food and water from the mouth for the digestive system.

Just below the oral cavity, the pharynx splits into two passages—the esophagus and the trachea. The esophagus takes food from the mouth into the stomach. The trachea, or windpipe, diverts air from the nose and mouth to the

Uvulas can come in different shapes and sizes, depending upon how the hard and soft palate develop.

Lungs. To prevent food from going down the trachea, a flap of tissue, called the epiglottis, covers the opening of the trachea during swallowing.

The Uvula

If you open your mouth wide, stick out your tongue, and look in a mirror, you will see a cylindrical-shaped piece of tissue hanging from the roof of your mouth in the back of your throat. This bit of tissue is called the uvula. The uvula forms when the two halves of the palate (the roof of the mouth) fuse together when you are developing as a fetus inside your mother.

No one knows for sure what the uvula’s purpose may be. Some scientists think it may help with breathing, digestive processes, or even speech. Because of the way it forms, the uvula can have different appearances in different people.

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