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Here is a quick mnemonic “SWALLOWING PHYSIOLOGY to remember about Physiology Of Swallowing

This can be valuable for patients as well as medical doctors, nurses & students doing their clinical rounds. You can also find it very useful for med exams like USMLE, NExT Medical Step 1&2, MBBS, NEET PG, INI-CET, FMGE,MCAT & NCLEX exams

Physiology Of Swallowing : How To Remember Easily ?

  • Swallowing begins with a voluntary (oral) phase that includes preparation during which food is masticated and mixed with saliva.
  • Whisper is an appropriate vocal volume to check for laryngeal function during swallowing.
  • Airway protection is a crucial aspect of the pharyngeal swallow response.
  • Larynx is elevated and pulled forward to facilitate upper esophageal sphincter (UES) opening.
  • Lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes to allow food into the esophagus.
  • Oesophagus is a muscular tube that transports the food bolus to the stomach.
  • When swallowing, there are primary peristalsis contractions along the entire length of the esophagus.
  • Inhibition, known as deglutitive inhibition, precedes the peristaltic contraction during swallowing.
  • Nonperistaltic contractions, called tertiary esophageal contractions, may occur spontaneously.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux can trigger secondary peristalsis.
  • Pharyngeal muscles are innervated by the ninth (glossopharyngeal) and tenth (vagus) cranial nerves.
  • Hypoglossal cranial nerve innervates the tongue.
  • Yawn is an example of a reflexive pharyngeal swallow.
  • Smooth muscle controls the distal esophagus and LES.
  • Inhibitory neurons release neurotransmitters such as nitric oxide in the esophageal myenteric plexus.
  • Onset of deglutitive inhibition causes LES relaxation.
  • Lower motor neurons in cranial nerves innervate the musculature of the oral cavity, pharynx, UES, and cervical esophagus.
  • Oral cavity muscles are innervated by the fifth (trigeminal) and seventh (facial) cranial nerves.
  • Ganglionic neurons are responsible for peristalsis in the esophagus.
  • Yawning is not part of the swallowing process but is related to neural innervation.


Dr. Arin Nandi

Passionate About Medical Science & Helping Future Doctors Achieve Top Ranks In Medical Exams. He is professionally a dentist as well as a public health expert from JIPMER (1), (2)working in health department