The bony tube that connects the lungs to the nose and the mouth is called the trachea. It is commonly known as the windpipe and it plays an important role in the respiratory system. It is through the trachea that the air flows into our lungs, which is needed for respiration. It extends downward, coming from the base of the voice box or the larynx. Part of it lies in the neck, and the other part lies in our chest cavity. It is the primary air canal in the human vertebrae system; and if damaged, it can be life threatening.
The trachea is made up of ligaments and cartilage, which can be found at the front part of the neck. To keep the airway open, the walls of the trachea are strengthened through rings of stiff cartilages. There are about 16 to 20 rings of cartilages that are c-shaped in the trachea, which are connected through the ligaments. It is also lined with a mucus membrane called as the cilia. The cilia protect the lungs from fluids and foreign particles by sweeping them out of the airway. It also helps push potential objects that can cause respiratory failures and choking.
When a foreign object is trapped in the trachea and blocks the airway, choking occurs. The body’s response to choking is through the coughing reflex. This allows the cilia or the ciliated cells to push the object that causes a person to choke out of the trachea as well as out of the respiratory system. If the trachea is damaged, intubation is induced to the patients, where doctors would put a tube into the mouth or the nose and down to the trachea so that air can pass through it and directly go into the lungs to keep the person breathing and alive.