The throat transmits air to the trachea and lungs. The throat also allows food and water and liquids to flow from the mouth into the digestive passage and the esophagus.
Around the beginning of the throat passage there are lymph tissue bundles called Waldeyer’s ring. This tissue provides protection against microorganisms.
The most well known parts of the system are the tonsils and the adenoids. It is not uncommon for people to develop enlarged tonsils or recurrent tonsil infections. Removing the tonsils and adenoids may help these conditions.
Sometimes the adenoids alone are removed to try to decrease ear infections or sinus infections. The tonsils and adenoids are often removed together for children with sleep apnea or chronic tonsil adenoid infections.
Deep inside the throat is an organ called the larynx. The larynx has the vocal cords. Air traveling by the vocal cords makes them vibrate and produce sound which is recognized as human speech.
Hoarseness is a common problem. ENT physicians evaluate hoarseness with careful exam. Often an ENT physician will use a small endoscope to examine the vocal cords and pharynx.
Tumors inside the throat are conditions which ENT doctor as can diagnose and treat. A lump or swelling in the closely related structures of the neck can be the first sign of a serious throat condition.
Patients are frequently referred to ENT physicians for special tests or procedures to help diagnose neck masses. Neck swelling and masses can also represent problems in the saliva glands, thyroid, and lymph nodes.