What is swallowing?

Deglutition is the scientific term for the word swallowing. comes from the Latin word I will swallow , which means "swallow". The muscles of the tongue, pharynx, and esophagus are involved in the swallowing process, which is divided into three phases: the oral phase, the pharyngeal phase, and the esophageal phase. The cranial nerves also play many important roles in these phases.

The oral phase is usually a voluntary phase, meaning that it is often done consciously by the individual. It begins when food enters the mouth. Through the process of chewing, or chewing, food is broken down into smaller pieces. The tongue then pushes the bits of food into the pharynx, or the back of the throat. The cranial nerves that are involved during the oral phase are the trigeminal nerve, the facial nerve, and the hypoglossal nerve.

As soon as the food reaches the back of the throat, the pharyngeal phase occurs, which is mostly involuntary. The uvula and soft palate generally prevent food from passing into the nose by covering the nasopharynx, which opens into the nasal cavities. At the same time, the swallowing reflex begins by propelling food down the esophagus and away from the lungs with the help of the epiglottis, which is a flap of tissue that covers the larynx. During this process, swallowing apnea occurs, which means that breathing stops for a very short time. The cranial nerves involved during this phase include the vagus, accessory, and hypoglossal nerves.

The esophageal phase, which also occurs involuntarily, begins with the opening of the esophageal sphincter to allow food to enter. When food reaches the end of the esophagus, another muscle, called the cardiac sphincter, opens to allow food to pass into the stomach for digestion. A sphincter is a muscular ring that contracts and relaxes, preventing or allowing materials to pass from one area to another, such as in the esophagus and stomach.

Swallowing disorders sometimes occur in the elderly, especially after a stroke. Since the cranial nerves are often affected in stroke patients, food particles can sometimes enter the lungs and cause infection. Any birth defect, infection, obstruction, injury, or cancer growth in the pharynx or esophagus can affect the swallowing process. The most common symptom of a swallowing disorder is dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing. Another symptom is odynophagia or pain when swallowing.

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