Larynx anatomy: Your Guide To The Voice Box
By Jayton Miller
Have you ever wondered where the sound from your voice comes from? Or what about why you can’t talk that well when you get a scratchy throat? In today’s article we are going to take a look at what the larynx is, what it does, and why it’s so important to vocal health.
- General Function Of The Larynx
- Anatomy Of The Larynx
- Challenges With The Larynx
- Helpful Ways To Support Your Larynx And Vocal Cords
General Function Of The Larynx:
Also known as the voice box the larynx is located in the neck in front and below the pharynx. More specifically, it is located opposite of the 3rd to 6th cervical vertebrae. It is a place of entry for air to enter the lungs. It also plays a role in the protection of the lungs. It will close off whenever non-gaseous substances like food or liquid go down the throat, keeping them from going into the lungs.
Anatomy Of The Larynx:
The larynx is made up of cartilage, membranes, ligaments, and muscles. The laryngeal cartilages are:
- The Laryngeal Prominence - Also known as the Adam’s apple. This is more prominent in men due to hormonal differences but is present in women.
- The Thyroid Cartilage - Made up of two rear extensions, an inferior and superior extension
- The Cricoid Cartilage - A ring of cartilage that overlaps the thyroid cartilage
- Arytenoid Cartilages - A pair of mobile, pyramid shaped cartilages
- Epiglottis - Closes over larynx when food or liquids are ingested.
The Membranes of the larynx include:
- Quadrangular Membrane
- Thyrohyoid Membrane
The Ligaments of the Larynx are:
- The Lateral Thyrohyoid Ligament
- Cricothyroid Ligament Complex
- Vestibular ligament
- Posterior Cricoarytenoid Ligament
- Median Thyrohyoid Ligament
The muscles that are involved with the larynx mostly act to close the opening to the lungs when food or liquid is ingested, and to move the vocal cords. The Muscles of the Larynx include:
- Aryepiglottic Muscle - Helps to close the opening of the larynx to the lungs.
- Oblique Arytenoid Muscles - Works with the aryepiglottic muscle to close the laryngeal opening. (the opening is also known as the inlet)
- Transverse Arytenoid Muscle - Helps close the posterior side of the glottis.
- Posterior Cricoarytenoid Muscle - Helps opens the glottis
Larynx anatomy is quite complex, and becomes even more complex when you see the different parts of the throat it has to work with.
Challenges With The Larynx:
The larynx is a rather sensitive area when looking at the body as a whole. Some common challenges that are seen with the larynx are:
- Inflammation of the larynx
- Tight muscles - especially around the vocal cords, making it hard to push air through
- Ulcers - usually caused by trauma or abuse of the voice
Helpful Ways To Support Your Larynx And Vocal Cords:
If you suspect that you have a problem with the larynx please make sure to seek help form a medical professional. As always, eating a healthy diet and having a healthy lifestyle will make a dramatic impact on your health in its entirety. Some ways to keep the larynx healthy in particular are:
- Stay Hydrated - Keeping the vocal cords moist will help keep the friction between the vocal cords from happening.
- Nasal Breathing - Although not always possible, breathing through your nose helps add moisture to the air you are breathing in. If you are in an arid environment try using a humidifier at night.
- Avoid Irritants - Alcohol and smoking can harm the vocal cords. Mitigating intake can help save your vocal cords from damage. This can also mean using an air filter if you are in an area where allergens or pollutants are high.
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Knowing larynx anatomy, and how you can properly care for you voice box and vocal cords will help you keep a healthy and vibrant voice for the entirety of your life. Nothing is more fear-provoking than not being able to communicate with the outside world, and the easiest way to do that is through your voice. So take care of it and it will take care of you.