Difference Between Esophagus vs. Trachea

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Main Difference

These are the two most important parts of the human body which play an integral role from the inside and therefore it is important to know about them in a proper way. The main difference between the two terms can be explained in a way that, the esophagus is a muscular tube which connects the human throat with the stomach and helps in moving food from the mouth to the stomach. While trachea can be defined as one of the main parts of the respiratory system and is commonly known as windpipe and helps a person in breathing in all conditions.

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Comparison Chart

Basis of DistinctionEsophagusTrachea
DefinitionIt is the passage between the pharynx and the stomach.Membranous tube with cartilaginous rings that conveys inhaled air from the larynx to the bronchi.
PurposeConnects mouth to the stomach.Connects pharynx and larynx to the lungs.
ImportanceThe central part of the human digestive system.The central part of the human respiratory system.
Co-relationPlays some role in the respiratory systemPlays no role in the digestive system
SizeThe length of 8 inches.4 inches in length and 1 inch in width.
LocationLies behind the trachea and heart and is clearly visible from the ribs.Starts just under the larynx and is carried down to the chest.

Esophagus

This an integral part of the human body and can be defined as a muscular tube which connects the human throat with the stomach. The length of this tube varies from person to person but is usually considered 8 inches long and has a tissue named mucosa all along the outer surface. It is the part of the body which lies behind the trachea and heart and is clearly visible from the ribs. It is also connected to the diaphragm just when it enters the stomach. It is two closing units placed at the beginning and the end, in this, the first one is known as an upper esophageal sphincter and the lower esophageal sphincter. The first one has placed above and is a group of muscles which are in conscious control which is used for breathing, eating and vomiting. The primary function of these is to make sure that food and other digestive secretions do not enter the windpipe. Second ones are placed at the bottom and are another group of muscles and have the primary function of controlling acids and other contents from entering the stomach again once they have left it. There are many illnesses which can be caused here and some of them include heartburn, esophagus cancer, esophageal stricture and Esophagitis. It is one of the main parts of the digestive system but has no role to play in the digestive system except for preventing other parts to send secretions to the respiratory system. It starts at the back of the mouth and carries on until the stomach ends and therefore occupies most of the upper region.

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Trachea

This is one of the main parts of the respiratory system and is commonly known as windpipe. It is usually 4 inches in length and has a diameter of less than an inch, but this is not uniform, the lengths can vary from people to people. It starts just under the larynx and is carried down to the chest, here it then divides into two small tubes which are known as bronchi and enter the lungs. It also has mucosa outside the main parts and consists of twenty rings made up of cartilage. The back parts of each circle are the place where muscles and the mucosa tissues exist. It moves when a person breathes, when the oxygen is taken in, it increases in size, when the oxygen is taken out, the size is decreased. It can be said that this is the part which connects the pharynx and larynx to the lungs. A passage for breathing, it is present both in humans and animals. There is only one ring which is complete and attaches itself to the larynx, all the other ones are incomplete. There are many medical conditions which can be caused in this area, and the main one is known as tracheitis, in which the trachea is inflamed and results in extreme coughing. Others include Tracheoesophageal fistula and trachea cancer. There are many tests which are recommended whenever some trouble arises and that includes flexible bronchoscopy, rigid bronchoscopy, and chest X-ray. Sudden death can be caused when food or any other thing enters it in the solid form.

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Key Differences

  1. The esophagus is the central part of the human digestive system and has a minimal role to play in the respiratory system while trachea is the main part of the human respiratory system and does not play any part in the digestive system.
  2. Food which is passing through the gastrointestinal tract to the esophagus can accidentally enter the trachea, making the airway feel blocked and can result in death, while nothing can come from the trachea to esophagus.
  3. The trachea is usually 4 inches in length and has a diameter of less than an inch while esophagus is usually 8 inches long.
  4. The esophagus connects mouth to the stomach while the trachea connects pharynx and larynx to the lungs.
  5. The esophagus has a tissue named mucosa all along the outer surface while the back parts of each ring are the place where muscles and the mucosa tissues exist in the trachea.
  6. The esophagus is the part of the body which lies behind the trachea and heart and is clearly visible from the ribs while trachea starts just under the larynx and is carried down to the chest, here it then divides into two small tubes which are known as bronchi and enter the lungs.
  7. Primary diseases related to esophagus include heartburn, esophagus cancer, esophageal stricture and Esophagitis. While primitive conditions related to the trachea, include tracheitis, tracheoesophageal fistula, and trachea cancer.

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