What is swallowing

Swallowing act

Synonyms: swallowing process, swallowing
English: deglutition, swallowing

1 definition

The Swallowing act is a muscle-controlled body process that is used to move food from the oral cavity to the stomach.

2 requirements

Two prerequisites must be met for a successful act of swallowing:

If these conditions are not met, porridge can get into the airways.

3 sequence

3.1 Tensioning the muscles of the floor of the mouth

The hyoid bone is moved forward by the bilateral contraction of the oral floor muscles (stylohyoid muscles, mylohyoid muscles and digastric muscles). This causes the tongue to be pressed against the hard palate, so that the chyme moves backwards.

3.2 Closure of the larynx

The contraction of the thyrohyoid muscle causes the fat body located behind the thyrohyoid membrane to be compressed and in this way the epiglottis closes the larynx.

3.3 Closure of the nasopharynx

The levator veli palatini muscle and the tensor veli palatini muscle ensure a horizontal adjustment of the soft palate. At the same time, the Passavant ring bulge is moved towards the soft palate by the superior pharyngeal constrictor muscle, so that the nasopharynx is closed.

3.4 Conveyance of the food in the throat

The porridge is transported to the throat by the contraction of the hyoglossus and styloglossus muscles, because these muscles cause the tongue to be pulled dorsally.

3.5 Peristaltic waves in the esophagus

After the chyme has passed the closed larynx, it ends up in the gullet (esophagus). In its tunica muscularis it has an inner ring and an outer longitudinal musculature. By contracting the longitudinal muscles, the lumen of the esophagus is first widened. The following contraction of the circular muscles prevents the chyme from getting cranially. These contractions take the form of peristaltic waves, so that the chyme eventually ends up in the stomach.

4 phases

The processes described above can be divided into 4 phases:

  • Oral preparation phase: Includes the processes that precede the actual swallowing process and make it possible in the first place, especially the chopping of the food and mixing it with saliva
  • Oral transport phase: Formation of the chopped food into a bolus. The tongue moves this bolus up and down towards the hard palate and pushes it up the throat through the throat. This triggers the actual swallowing reflex.
  • Pharyngeal transport phase: The soft palate is tensed and lifted. This prevents the food pulp from entering the upper airways. The trachea is closed by the epiglottis and the upper esophageal sphincter opens. The bolus is transported into the esophagus by the interaction of the pharynx and tongue muscles as well as the action of gravity.
  • Esophageal transport phase: The bolus is pushed further towards the stomach by peristaltic movements of the esophageal muscles and gravity. With the passage of the lower esophageal sphincter, the bolus enters the stomach, ending the act of swallowing.

5 swallowing reflex

Since the act of swallowing is triggered reflexively by touching the porridge with the pharynx, one can also speak of the "swallowing reflex".

5.1 Afferent orbit

It runs in

to the swallowing center in the medulla oblongata.

5.2 Efferent orbit

She pulls in

to the muscles involved.

6 diagnostics