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Advice on larynx

what is larynx
(April 2, 2008)

What is the Larynx?

The larynx is a part of the respiratory tract. It is located in the neck and is more commonly known as the voice box. The larynx plays an important role in respiration and vocal communication.

The larynx is a complex and well constructed organ.

It can be divided into three main components: the supraglottis (a tissue cover on top of the larynx), the glottis (this is middle section of the larynx that holds the vocal cords) and the subglottis (the bottom covering tissue layer that connects the larynx and the windpipe).

What is the function of the Larynx?

The larynx is a comparatively small organ but it plays several very important roles in the body. The proper function of the larynx is crucial in ensuring the airway connecting to the lungs is open and allows for easy breathing as well as sound generation and vocal communication.

One function of the larynx is to keep out unwanted materials shut out of the airways. This particularly applies to food slippage into the windpipe. The larynx is crucial in preventing choking each time an individual eats or drinks. It is possibly the most important function of the larynx. Each time something is being ingested the epiglottis forms a cover over the larynx, thereby preventing food from entering the larynx and passing into the windpipe. Instead the food and drink is safely directed to the stomach via the esophagus. If the food enters the windpipe, it clogs in the pipes and blocks or cuts off the flow of air to the lungs. It results in choking, and in the worst case scenario this can cause death by asphyxiation.

The secondary function of the larynx is to protect the vocal cords. The vocal cords are located here, within cartilage walls and a complex muscle system that makes up the larynx. The vocal cords are essential for producing sound, regulating volume and controlling pitch, and as a result the larynx also has a role to play in voice generation.

Common Larynx Disorders

The larynx is susceptible to common infections that cause the larynx to inflame, which in turn cause a disruption in the function of larynx. The most common larynx disorders include sore throat, laryngitis, vocal cord paresis, laryngopharyngeal reflux, laryngitis ulcers, and so on. These can also be a symptom of chronic conditions like cancer. It is best to consult your doctor when countered with larynx discomfort.    

 Larynx Information 

Larynx also known as the voice box in simple terms is a small tube located anterior to esophagus and below the tongue and hyoid bone in the neck. Larynx is supported with various cartilages, intrinsic and extrinsic muscles, interconnecting ligaments and mucosal lining. Nine cartilages support the wall of the larynx that is linked together with connective tissue membranes and ligaments. Larynx performs three important functions –

  • It is a portion of our passageway through which we breathe.
  • During the swallowing process the cartilages in larynx close its entrance so that the food and drink can not pass through it. This it protects the lungs from the food we eat.
  • It forms the basic source of the voice. For the generation of voice air comes up from the lungs through the windpipe and vibrates the closed vocal cords and thus a subsequent sound is produced. Generation of voice is not the direct function of larynx but it is the responsibility of the vocal cords, however the vocal cords resided in larynx so indirectly it is also important in generation of voice.

Any damage to the larynx due to some disease or surgery can impair all these three functions possibly and depending on the condition a treatment or surgery would follow. 

Submitted by S M on April 2, 2008 at 06:19


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