Respiratory System

Structure and Function

Why is it dangerous to talk while eating?

If a person talks while eating, food may be inhaled into the lungs. Normally, after food is swallowed, it passes into the pharynx and then into the esophagus. Food is prevented from entering the larynx (the passageway to the lungs) by the epiglottis, a spade-shaped cartilage flap that covers the pharynx. If food does enter the larynx, a cough reflex is usually initiated, although food may lodge in the larynx, causing a blockage of the airway.


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