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The esophagus connects the mouth with the stomach. The epiglottis closes over the trachea when a swallow occurs to prevent the swallowed substance from being inhaled into the lungs. When a person is unable to swallow because of illness or coma, a tube may be inserted either through the mouth or nose, past the epiglottis, through the esophagus to the stomach. Nutrients will pass through the tube directly into the stomach.