It seemed only appropriate to follow up the Pharynx with the Larynx, clearly they are related. They sound like cartoon characters and I’m sure they will set off on some adventure together if they haven’t already.

larynx anatomyHowever, not to be diminished by a bit of humor, your larynx is yet one more amazing addition to your perfect body, it is also called your ‘voice box’. It’s actually quite a complex bit of anatomy, being comprised of several very important bits and pieces of cartilage, each serving an important function in your body. First there are three major bits of cartilage; the cricoid, thyroid, epiglottal. Then there are three smaller pairs of cartilage (6 in total) they are smaller but no less important; arytenoids, corniculate, cuneiform. In addition to all of that structural stuff going on there are some pretty important nerves, muscles, veins, arteries and lymph vessels that run through the larynx. Your larynx is worthy of some major respect! Wondering how to locate your larynx? Well, the thyroid cartilage that wraps around your thyroid is basically part of your larynx. I told you this perfect body stuff was fascinating. You are an exquisite work of art!!

larynx vocalFunctionally, your larynx is intricately involved in the action of swallowing, in respiration, and in the production of your voice, called phonation.

Phonation is a pretty cool process; part of your larynx is made up of a pair triangular shaped cartilage called arytenoid cartilage. Your vocal cords, also called vocal folds, are attached to these cartilage, when air rises up through the respiratory passes as you attempt to form words, the arytenoid cartilage help the vocal cords contract, relax, and whatever in between they need to do, to form the sounds that will become your words. Wonder why your voice shakes when you are nervous? Well, one reason can be due to the fact that your larynx is innervated by nerve ganglia that originate in the Vagus Nerve, (nervous system superhighway), nervousness can cause the nerve impulses to force undesired contraction/relaxation patterns in the musculature of the larynx.

Your larynx is also part of the container that provides a protective home for your thyroid gland; this is one reason your voice can be involved if you have issues with your thyroid. In fact, one of the recognized characteristics of hypothyroidism is a hoarse and cracking voice.

Clearly, this is only the briefest overview of the awesomeness of your larynx, but it’s enough of a start to inspire you to send some appreciation its way. Maybe take a moment to cup your hands around and send it some deep love.