The larynx is the organ responsible for the phonatory function, or the organ that allows the emission of sound signals. Located in the neck, the larynx has the shape of a hollow cylinder placed between the pharynx and the trachea. The larynx allows air from the nose and mouth to reach the bronchi, as well as its expiration from the bronchi to the nose and mouth. The larynx is equipped with a closure system that prevents the entry of the food bolus, i.e. the chewed food, from the oral cavity to the respiratory tract.
What is the larynx?
The larynx is the organ responsible for phonation, that is, the emission of sounds. Its structure and consistency are rigid, thanks to the cartilages – eleven in all, including five main ones – which make up its structure. The cartilages that form the larynx are connected together by ligaments. A large musoclar system allows the mobility of the various cartilaginous parts as well as of the whole laryngeal apparatus.
It is possible to divide the larynx into three portions: upper, central, and lower. The upper portion, or “supraglottic” is located at the height of the epiglottis, and its cavity is called the vestibule of the larynx. The central portion is located at the glottis. Finally, below this there is the lower portion. This is formed externally by muscles, while its interior is lined with mucosa. The larynx originates behind the tongue, where the pharynx ends, and continues into the trachea.
In an adult subject, the larynx has a length of about 4 cm, a width of about 4 cm, and a diameter of about 3.5 cm. Depending on age and gender, these dimensions may vary between individuals.
The larynx undergoes changes during puberty: if in infancy, in fact, it is rather small in size, during the years of sexual maturation it develops quickly, to then retain its final dimensions. Some of the changes undergone by the larynx in puberty induce changes in the tone of voice typical of this period of life distinguishable especially in males. In women this organ is usually shorter than in men.
What is the larynx used for?
The larynx is used to allow phonation, or the emission of sounds, the passage of the air inhaled from the nose and mouth towards the lungs, and the air exhaled from the lungs towards the nose and mouth.