Manomay Shravage

It would lead to a horrific and painful death.

Food-pipe (esophagus) and windpipe (trachea) are located in close proximity to each other and share a common passageway at the back of our mouths (You can both eat and breathe through your mouth, remember?)

As we swallow, the food/drink do not know the right way down. They will go down any pipe that is open — food pipe or windpipe or both.

To prevent food from going down the wrong pipe, nature has provided us with a ‘flap’ or a ‘door’ called epiglottis. Epiglottis stands atop the windpipe, guarding its opening.

This is why we feel short of breath while swallowing food.


Food pipe and wind pipe both open in throat, there is a valve arrangement that normally when food is being ingested through the food pipe, the wind pipe remains closed except when we are talking while taking meals both the valve are open and sometimes a morsel of food gets choked into the wind pipe causing heavy coughing, sometime even death can take place that is why it is advisable nor talk while eating .

In normal practice respiration ( inhalation ) remains stopped for a few seconds each time when the morsel is being swallowed.

As for why we can’t usually swallow and breathe at the same time: It’s because each time we swallow, a small flap of tissue called ‘epiglottis’ diligently covers and protects the windpipe.

Windpipe and food-pipe are located right next to each other in the throat. A well-functioning epiglottis makes sure that drinks and food enter only the esophagus a.k.a. food-pipe.

Here’s a picture of epiglottis in action—

Blue arrow → Air

Green bolus → Food

Notice in the second picture how epiglottis is protecting the windpipe as the food passes into the food-pipe.