The Digestive System
Learning about the digestive system can be fun but challenging for kids. The digestive system works by itself and undergoes a number of complicated processes much like the heart and other organs in the human body. Also, like other parts of the body, learning about the digestive system involves learning about many terms that can be confusing and unfamiliar. One way to make learning about the digestive system easier is to become familiar with the terminology that commonly comes up. Here are some digestive system terms for kids.
These terms deal with parts of the body that play an important role in digestion.
Anus: The opening of the rectum to the outside of the body.
Bowel: Another word for intestines. The word “bowel” comes from the Latin word “botulus” which means “sausage.” It was called this because to the Romans, the outside of the intestine looked like a sausage.
Cecum: Connected to the appendix, this pouch marks the beginning of the large intestine.
Colon: This is a part of the large intestine that runs from the cecum to the rectum. It is an extensive hollow tube that removes water from digested food so it can be reused by the body. The remaining solid waste or stool moves through the colon to the rectum, leaving the body through the anus.
Duodenum: This is the first part of the small intestine. It is found before the pylorus and after the jejunum. The duodenum was named for its size and was originally called the dodeka-daktulon, which in Greek meant twelve fingers.
Esophagus: Also known as the gullet, the esophagus is a tube that connects the pharynx with the stomach. It is found behind the trachea, and in front of the spine. As a person swallows, the muscular walls of the esophagus contract and push food down into the stomach. There are also glands that line the esophagus and produce mucus, which also aids in swallowing. Esophagues comes from the Greek word oisophagos. It can be broken down further to oisein, meaning to bear or carry, and phagein, which means to eat.
Gallbladder: This is a pear-shaped organ found below the liver. It stores an important digestive enzyme, bile, which is secreted by the liver. After consuming a meal with fats in it, the gallbladder will deliver bile through bile ducts into the intestines to help with digestion.
Ileum: The ileum is the lowest part of the small intestine. It can be found after the duodenum and jejunum, just before the colon.
Jejunum: Part of the small intestine. It is half-way down the small intestine between its duodenum and ileum sections.
Large intestine: Found after the small intestine. It is termed the large intestine because it is wider than the small intestine.
Liver: This is an organ found in the upper abdomen. It helps with digestion and removes waste products and worn-out cells from the blood. It is the biggest solid organ in the body weighing about three-and-a-half pounds.
Pharynx: The pharynx is a funnel-shaped tube of muscle tissue between the oral cavity and the esophagus. It is a passageway for air, liquids and food.
Small intestine: The part of the digestive tract found after the stomach and before the large intestine. This is where most nutrients are absorbed from food.
Trachea: A tube-like portion of the respiratory tract that connects the voice box or larynx to the beginning of the lungs. It is actually part of the respiratory system but it’s listed here because it starts at the back of the mouth alonside the esophagus.
Other Important Digestive Terms
There are also other relatable digestive system terms for kids, which are found to be important enough to include in this study guide.
Absorb: To take something in, as in absorbing something through the skin or the intestine. The large and small intestines use this method to receive important nutrients from the foods and beverages we consume.
Chyme: This is a term for food that is partially digested. It passes from your stomach into the upper part of your small intestine.
Digestive system: The digestive system consists of organs that get food in and out of the body and use what is available from it. These organs include the mouth, salivary glands, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, large intestine, rectum, and anus.
Heartburn: Medically known as pyrosis, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. It is a warm burning sensation that occurs in the esophagus as stomach acid rises up from the stomach. People can experience this after eating spicy or acidic food such as garlic or Italian dressing. It is usually due to gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
Lactose intolerance: People who can’t digest lactose have lactose intolerance and can have uncomfortable symptoms such as gas or bloating after eating products with lactose in them. Lactose is a type of sugar that can be found in milk or other dairy products.
This post is part of the series: Digestive System
Learn different aspects about the digestive system including important terms and how it works.