International Journal of Respiratory Medicine

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Opinion Article - International Journal of Respiratory Medicine (2024) Volume 9, Issue 3

Larynx: Its Structure, Function, and Role in Breathing.

Moye Moye*

Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, George Street Ste, New Haven, CT, USA

*Corresponding Author:
Moye Moye
Department of Psychiatry
Yale School of Medicine
George Street Ste, New Haven, CT, USA

Received:29-May-2024, Manuscript No. AAIJRM-24-140016; Editor assigned:31-May-2024, Pre QC No. AAIJRM-24-140016(PQ); Reviewed:14-Jun-2024, QC No. AAIJRM-24-140016; Revised:17-Jun-2024, Manuscript No. AAIJRM-24-140016(R); Published:24-Jun-2024, DOI: 10.35841/AAIJRM-9.3.212

Citation: Moye M. Larynx: Its structure, function, and role in breathing. Int J Respir Med. 2024;9(3):212

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The larynx, commonly known as the voice box, is a crucial structure in the respiratory system with vital roles in breathing, sound production, and protecting the airway during swallowing [1]. This article explores the anatomy of the larynx, its functions, and its significance in respiration [2].

Structure of the larynx is located in the anterior part of the neck, situated between the pharynx and the trachea. It is composed of several cartilages, muscles, and ligaments that work together to perform its functions. Key structural components of the larynx include:

Thyroid Cartilage: The largest cartilage, often referred to as the Adam’s apple, it forms the front wall of the larynx [3].

Cricoid Cartilage: A ring-shaped cartilage located below the thyroid cartilage, it provides support to the larynx [4].

Arytenoid Cartilages: Paired cartilages located above the cricoid cartilage, they play a crucial role in vocal cord movement [5].

Epiglottis: A leaf-shaped flap of cartilage that covers the laryngeal inlet during swallowing, preventing food and liquids from entering the airway [6].

Vocal Cords (Vocal Folds): These are mucous membrane folds that stretch horizontally across the larynx. They are responsible for sound production when air passes through them, causing them to vibrate [7].

Intrinsic Muscles: These muscles control the tension and position of the vocal cords and the opening and closing of the glottis (the space between the vocal cords) [8].

Extrinsic Muscles: These muscles connect the larynx to surrounding structures and help move it during swallowing and speaking.

Function of the Larynx has several vital functions, including:

Voice production phonation: The vocal cords vibrate as air passes through them, producing sound. The pitch and volume of the sound are controlled by the tension and length of the vocal cords, which are adjusted by the intrinsic muscles of the larynx [9].

Airway protection epiglottis function: During swallowing, the epiglottis folds down to cover the laryngeal inlet, directing food and liquids into the esophagus and preventing them from entering the trachea.

Cough Reflex: The larynx plays a key role in the cough reflex, which helps clear the airway of irritants or obstructions.

Air Passage Regulation: The larynx controls the flow of air into the trachea and lungs. The vocal cords can open wide to allow maximum air flow during inhalation and narrow during exhalation or when holding the breath.

Maintaining Open Airway: The rigid structure of the larynx, supported by cartilage, keeps the airway open and allows free passage of air during breathing.

Role of the Larynx in Breathing: The larynx is essential for efficient and effective respiration. Its role in breathing involves:

Airway Patency: The structure of the larynx ensures that the airway remains open, facilitating unobstructed airflow to and from the lungs. The cricoid and thyroid cartilages provide a rigid framework that prevents the airway from collapsing.

Regulation of Airflow: The vocal cords and intrinsic muscles of the larynx adjust the size of the glottis, regulating the flow of air during different phases of respiration. During deep inhalation, the vocal cords abduct (move apart) to maximize airflow, while during phonation or breath-holding, they adduct (move together) to restrict airflow.

Protective Mechanisms: The larynx protects the lower respiratory tract from foreign particles and food aspiration. The epiglottis and the closure of the vocal cords act as barriers during swallowing, preventing substances from entering the trachea and lungs.

Cough Reflex: The larynx initiates the cough reflex when irritants are detected in the airway. This reflex helps expel mucus, pathogens, or foreign particles from the respiratory tract, maintaining clear airways and preventing infections [10].


The larynx is a multifaceted organ with critical roles in voice production, airway protection, and breathing regulation. Its complex structure, comprising various cartilages, muscles, and ligaments, allows it to perform these functions efficiently. Understanding the anatomy and function of the larynx highlights its importance in maintaining respiratory health and ensuring effective communication. By protecting the airway and regulating airflow, the larynx plays a central role in the respiratory system, underscoring its significance in sustaining life.


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