Larynx Definition and Information about its Parts, Function & Diseases
What Is the Larynx Definition?
What is larynx? Talking about the larynx definition, it is structure lying just at the top of trachea. It plays a significant role in the production of vocal sounds. The larynx is also responsible for the protection of windpipe against the entry of food particles.
Owing to its great contribution to phonation, it is also known as voice box or sound apparatus. The voice box contains vocal cords.
In human adults, it lies at the level of third to sixth vertebrae of the cervical region. But in newborn babies, it is at a higher position. That is, here you will find it at the point of second to third vertebrae. As you can see in the larynx pictures, it is present at the anterior end of trachea.
Larynx covers the tracheal opening through a flexible flap, i.e. epiglottis. The epiglottis sits on the aperture like a lid. To learn more about larynx definition and function, just go through the rest of the article.
Parts of Larynx
After learning the larynx definition, you need to proceed to its parts. The larynx cartilage makes up the structure of the sound apparatus. There are nine laryngeal cartilages in the skeleton of this body part. Out of nine cartilages, six appear in the form of pairs. While the other three remain single. The unpaired cartilages are cricoids, thyroid and epiglottis.
On the other hand, the cuneiform, corniculate and arytenoids are three paired ones. However, talking of the interior of sound apparatus, you can distinguish it into three divisions, viz. subglottis, glottis and supraglottis.
Meanwhile, there are also a number of intrinsic and extrinsic muscles that are present in the region. These muscular structures facilitate the functioning of the organ in various ways. For example, the intrinsic cricothyroid muscles help in the stretching and elongation of the vocal folds.
Different types of sensory and motor nerves innervate various muscular structures of larynx. They include vagus, superior laryngeal and recurrent laryngeal nerves. The vocal folds of voice box are of two types, i.e. false and true.
Here the former do not contain muscle and have nothing to do with the production of sound. But they play their role in the resonance. The true mucosal folds, on the other hand, do have skeletal muscle and play an active role in phonation.
The Larynx Function:
Many anatomists consider phonation to be the secondary function of laryngeal structure. They are of the view that the primary role of larynx is to facilitate respiratory system of your body, especially breathing.
As a respiratory organ, it has two major tasks. The first one is the regulation of airflow into lungs. Secondly, the voice box is responsible for the protection of trachea. In this case, it prevents the entry of harmful environment substances, food particles and fluids.
The cartilaginous structures at the anterior of the windpipe, keep the glottis wide open. The wide open glottis ensures the smooth and uninterrupted passage of respiratory gases. Sometime, a few drops of drinking water or dietary substances may enter the glottal opening.
If they reach the lungs, there is no possibility for them to get out of it. As a result, there is stagnation and subsequent lung infections. That is why, when you are ingesting bolus or consuming fluids, epiglottis covers the glottal opening in advance. But, later on, the aperture again opens to allow breathing. And, it is a natural biological phenomenon.
Role in Phonation
The larynx definition reveals that it is an organ of voice generation. This role of the organ is of vital importance. Here, it enables human beings to communicate through language. The ability to speak distinguishes humans from all other creatures on the planet earth.
There is no denying the fact that all the progress in civilization and development is because of the linguistic potential of humans. It is through language that the researchers and scientists transfer the knowledge about their discoveries and inventions to the future generations.
How does the sound apparatus create various different types of sounds? The larynx definition may not provide detail about it. Well, there is a simple mechanism that you can easily understand. The airstream passing through the voice box sets the vocal cords in vibration. It results in the production of voice.
Meanwhile, there are different other vocal organs, including uvula, palate, lips, teeth, tongue and gum ridge, etc. These vocal organs modify the sounds into various linguistic sounds that have meaning.
Larynx Infection and Other Diseases:
When you inhale polluted air, there are chances of larynx infection. This infection can cause difficulty in breathing. Also, it will pose hindrance in the production of sounds. There are also various other types of larynx diseases.
The ailments of laryngeal region, in general, adversely affect the respiratory activities. At the same time, they pose severe complexities in the production and quality of vocal sounds. Some of the frequently disorders include inflammation, infections, lesions and nodules. Cancer, laryngitis sicca, hemorrhage and paralysis are also common.
In normal larynx, the vocal folds are pearly white in color. But, in case of an infection or some other disease, there are changes in their healthy appearance. Distortion of their structural settings may also occur.
Here follows a brief discussion of some of the commonly occurring laryngeal diseases:
The nodules and calluses of the larynx are most common in human females and children. They occur due to the overuse or improper production of voice. You can diagnose the laryngeal calluses through the breathy and raspy voice. An appropriate speech therapy is useful for the treatment of such a condition. And, if the symptoms do not ameliorate, the patients need to opt for surgical therapy.
The larynx cancer or laryngeal carcinoma involves the formation of malignant cells in the tissues of the larynx. The origin of the laryngeal carcinoma lies in the skin of larynx. The symptoms of the disease include a sore throat and a severe pain in the ear.
Drinking too much alcohol and the excessive use of tobacco products are the main risk factors for this condition. Physical examination of the neck and throat, biopsy and CT Scan are useful for the diagnosis of the diseases.
If an individual’s voice becomes hoarse and unpredictable, they are likely to be suffering from laryngitis sicca. In addition, the throat becomes dry and there is the development of crusting on the surface of the larynx including the vocal folds.
Inhaling polluted air, smoking tobacco and dehydration are some of the causative factors for laryngitis sicca. Generally, it is fairly difficult to manage this condition. However, if you increase hydration and stop smoking it will be very helpful to ameliorate the symptoms.