What is the Difference Between Epiglottis and Uvula

The main difference between epiglottis and uvula is that epiglottis is the cartilaginous organ in the throat, covering the glottis whereas uvula is the fleshy appendage that hangs from the back of the palate. Furthermore, epiglottis prevents food and liquids from entering the trachea while uvula closes the nasopharynx during swallowing.

Epiglottis and uvula are two small anatomical structures in the upper alimentary tract of terrestrial vertebrates. Their main function is to prevent food from entering the respiratory tract.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Epiglottis
     – Definition, Anatomy, Function
2. What is Uvula
     – Definition, Anatomy, Function
3. What are the Similarities Between Epiglottis and Uvula
     – Outline of the Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Epiglottis and Uvula
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Alimentary Tract, Aspiration, Epiglottis, Glottis, Nasopharynx, Respiratory Tract, Trachea

Difference Between Epiglottis and Uvula - Comparison Summary

What is Epiglottis

The epiglottis is a leaf-shaped flap located behind the tongue, on top of the larynx. Also, it is a somewhat hard, cartilaginous structure whose main function is to cover the trachea during swallowing. It prevents food from entering into the respiratory tract or aspiration.

What is the Difference between Epiglottis and Uvula

Figure 1; Epiglottis

In addition, the flap of the epiglottis is made up of elastic cartilage and a mucous membrane covers it. During breathing, it stands open, allowing the passage of air into the larynx. Moreover, the epiglottis is used in some languages to produce epiglottal consonant speech sounds.

What is Uvula

The uvula or the palatine uvula is a conic projection from the posterior edge of the soft palate. It is made up of muscle and connective tissue. Same as the epiglottis, the uvula is covered with a mucous membrane. The musculus uvulae, the muscular fibers, which lies inside the uvula is responsible for the broadening and the shortening of the uvula. The main function of the uvula is to cover the nasopharynx during swallowing, preventing the entrance of food into the respiratory tract.

Difference between Epiglottis and Uvula

Figure 2: Uvula

In addition, uvula contains a large number of serous glands, which produce saliva. Thus, this helps to keep the throat lubricated. Also, it prevents excessive nasal speech. Moreover, Arabic, French, and some Western languages produce uvular sounds as well.

Similarities Between Epiglottis and Uvula

  • Epiglottis and uvula are two anatomical structures that occur in the upper part of the alimentary tract.
  • Moreover, they are flexible structures, covering the respiratory tract from entering the food and liquids.

Difference Between Epiglottis and Uvula

Definition

Epiglottis refers to a flap of cartilage behind the root of the tongue, which is depressed during swallowing to cover the opening of the windpipe while uvula refers to a fleshy extension at the back of the soft palate which hangs above the throat. Thus, this is the main difference between epiglottis and uvula.

Location

Location is a major difference between epiglottis and uvula. Epiglottis occurs behind the tongue while uvula occurs at the back of the soft palate.

Structure

Furthermore, epiglottis is a cartilaginous structure while uvula is a muscular structure.

Shape

Another difference between epiglottis and uvula is that the epiglottis is wedge-shaped while uvula is leaf-shaped.

Function

Besides, epiglottis covers the trachea during swallowing, while the uvula covers the nasopharynx.

Contain

Moreover, epiglottis contains taste buds while uvula contains serous glands.

Conclusion

The epiglottis is a cartilaginous structure located behind the tongue, preventing the food from entering the trachea. On the other hand, the uvula is a fleshy structure located behind the soft palate, preventing the food from entering the nasopharynx. Therefore, the main difference between epiglottis and uvula is the structure and the type of structure covering of the respiratory tract.

References:

1. “Epiglottis Function, Pictures & Definition | Body Maps.” Healthline, Healthline Media, Available Here
2. Ashish. “What’s The Weird Thing That Hangs At The Back Of The Throat?” Science ABC, Science ABC, 5 Dec. 2018, Available Here

Image Courtesy:

1. “Mouth and pharynx” By BruceBlaus. Blausen.com staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014″. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436. – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blausen_0872_UpperRespiratorySystem.png (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Tonsils diagram” By  (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia  

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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