Anatomy & Physiology Gastrointestinal #12
Which gastrointestinal (GI) and respiratory system structure plays a role in both the cough and gag reflexes?
The larynx is a structure of the respiratory system; it does not play a direct role in both the cough and gag reflexes. It is, however, the structure that the epiglottis (a GI and respiratory structure) is attached.
The pharynx is both a GI and respiratory tract structure. The pharynx specific function for the GI tract is to receive fluids and food from the mouth via swallowing; however, it does not play a direct role in the cough and gag reflexes.
The epiglottis is attached to the larynx and is considered both a structure of the GI and the respiratory tracts. The epiglottis assists in preventing food within the GI tract from entering the respiratory tract and plays a direct role in the cough and gag reflexes.
The esophagus is a hollow, long, and straight structure that starts at the pharynx (i.e., throat) and ends at the stomach. The esophagus is lined with smooth muscles that move and propel fluids and food along the GI tract via peristalsis; however, this structure does not play a direct role in the cough and gag reflexes.
The GI tract includes the organs responsible for the digestive process.
The pharynx and the epiglottis are both GI and respiratory system structures. The epiglottis is the “flap-like” projection in the back of the mouth. It is attached to the larynx and goes up and down during breathing to allow the air to enter into the trachea during respirations while also allowing food to move down during the swallowing of fluids and food. The epiglottis plays a role in both the cough and the gag reflexes.
Test Taking Tip
Consider the function of each choice to determine the correct answer for this question.