Anatomy & Physiology Respiratory #7

Question

Which respiratory system structure prevents food from entering the lungs when swallowing?

Answers

  1. Carina
    • Rationale:

      The carina is the ridge that separates the openings of the right and left main bronchi at their junction with the trachea. This structure does not play a role in preventing food from entering the lungs.

  2. Trachea
    • Rationale:

      Trachea, or windpipe, connects the pharynx to the larynx. It provides air flow to and from the lungs; however, it does not play a role in preventing food from entering the lungs.

  3. Epiglottis
    • Rationale:

      The epiglottis is a flap that diverts food to the pharynx to enter the gastrointestinal tract while swallowing food and fluids. If the epiglottis malfunctions, there is an increased risk for aspiration.

  4. Diaphragm
    • Rationale:

      The diaphragm is the major breathing muscle of the body. This structure does not play a role in preventing food from entering the lungs.

Overview

Aspiration is the medical term to describe the accidental inhalation of an object or fluid through the trachea to the lungs.

Explanation

Learning Outcomes

During the process of swallowing, the epiglottis diverts food from the trachea to the pharynx. The pharynx is a structure that is classified as both a respiratory and gastrointestinal structure. As a respiratory structure, the pharynx allows for the movement of air from the nose and mouth to the larynx.

Test Taking Tip

Consider the function of each structure to determine the correct answer choice for this question.

Video Rationale