Your nasopharynx is the top of your throat (pharynx), connecting your nose to your respiratory system. It contains adenoids, which help prevent infection. Also, your eustachian tubes connect from your ears to your nasopharynx, draining fluid and balancing pressure. Conditions that affect your nasopharynx include the common cold and enlarged adenoids.
Your nasopharynx is the top part of your throat (pharynx). It’s a muscular, box-shaped passageway behind your nose, just above the roof of your mouth. Your nasopharynx allows air to pass from your nose into your windpipe and eventually into your lungs.
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The main function of your nasopharynx is to connect your nasal passages to the rest of your respiratory system. This allows air to get from your nose to your lungs.
Your nasopharynx also helps:
Your nasopharynx is located toward the bottom and back of your skull. It’s in the back of your nose and the roof of your mouth.
The top of your nasopharynx connects to your nasal cavity. The bottom connects to your oropharynx (middle throat), leading to your hypopharynx (lower throat), trachea and eventually lungs.
Your nasopharynx involves several important structures:
The size of your nasopharynx varies among people. It’s about 2 centimeters in diameter and 4 centimeters long.
The most common condition that affects your nasopharynx is nasopharyngitis, otherwise known as the common cold. This swelling of your nasal passages and throat is sometimes called an upper respiratory infection, or rhinitis.
In nasopharyngitis, a virus (often rhinovirus) infects your nasopharynx. The infection causes symptoms for about a week to 10 days, including:
Other conditions that can affect your nasopharynx include:
Some easy strategies can help prevent the common cold and repeat infections that may lead to enlarged adenoids:
Seek medical attention if you experience:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Your nasopharynx is a passageway in your throat that allows air to pass from your nose to your lungs. The most common conditions to affect your nasopharynx are the simple cold and swollen adenoids. But diseases may also occur, including cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any pain or unusual symptoms, especially if they don’t go away after a week to 10 days.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/04/2022.
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