What is an Esophagus?
Esophagus is an organ present in animals with backbones and serves the function of transporting food from the mouth to the stomach. It is a muscular tube which originates from the pharynx and extends way down to the stomach where food is initially processed and/or digested. The word “esophagus” is derived from “oisophagos”, a Greek word that literally means “entrance or opening for eating”. Because of its function in eating and/or swallowing, the esophagus is sometimes referred to as the “swallowing tube” or “gullet”.
This muscular tube typically extends to about 10 inches in normal young adults and it plays a very important role in the digestive system of vertebrates, including human beings. When food is taken in the mouth it will be pushed back by the tongue to the esophagus. The esophagus will then transport this food into the stomach by means of its sphincters. The sphincters are located in the esophageal walls and will contract to move the food down to the stomach. The contraction of these sphincters work in way that after the food is pushed down, they will automatically close to prevent regurgitation of the food. These sphincters also release some enzymes to aid in food digestion.
The esophageal wall is lined with tissues and glands that allow for the smooth passage of food. Any abnormality in these parts will cause pain on swallowing. The consumption of too much spicy food items and highly-carbonated liquids are said to cause pain in the esophagus. But aside from pain in swallowing, some people may also experience pain in the chest or heartburn. There are also instances that the esophagus will be affected when the stomach releases too much acid to neutralize spicy food. This condition is called “acid reflux disease” and may lead to ulcerations along the esophageal lining. To protect the esophagus, people are usually advised on proper diet and nutrition.