The pharynx conducts food toward the esophagus and air to the larynx. Commonly called the throat, the pharynx lies behind the oral cavity and between the nasal cavities and the larynx.
The pharynx consists of three parts:
- Nasophaynx is the upper section.
- Oropharynx is the middle section and also part of the digestive system.
- Laryngopharynx is the lower section and also part of the digestive system.
Two other structures are a part of the pharynx:
- Eustachian or auditory tube openings connect the nasophaynx with the middle ear. This tube equalizes air pressure on both sides of the tympanic membrane.
- Tonsils are clusters of lymphoid tissue and a necessary part of the immune system. There are three types of tonsils:
- Pharyngeal tonsils (adenoids) are close to the eustachian tubes.
- Palatine tonsils are on the lateral walls of the oropharynx, which are on either side of the uvula.
- Lingual tonsils are on the posterior surface of the tongue.