03 March 2006

Your Adam's apple

It's not the forbidden fruit, and it's perhaps a bad idea to eat it. So what is the Adam's apple then? Read on and find out more about this little (or large) lump.

No it is not the forbidden fruit, and it is perhaps a bad idea to try and eat it, unless of course, you're a cannibal. So what is the Adam's apple then? Read on and find out more about this little (or large) lump.

What is the Adam's apple?
You were still a young boy, and you could not stop staring at daddy's lump at the front of his neck. All the older boys had it, but you didn't? What is it? Is it a tumour of some sort, perhaps a crab in daddy's throat? Sorry to disappoint you, but the Adam's apple (prominentia laryngea) is just a protruded voice box, also known as the larynx. It's just a way of saying, "I have become a man".

When boys reach puberty, their bodies go through many changes. Amongst these changes, caused by hormones such as testosterone, the Adam's apple starts to develop. The larynx, situated in the throat, makes it possible to speak. This includes laughing, whispering, singing, and in the case of a voice that still needs breaking, screaming.

Both males and females develop a larger larynx during puberty. In men however, it grows to such an extent, that two plates of thyroid cartilage are pushed out and meet at the front of the throat, forming the Adam's apple. The larger the larynx gets, the deeper the voice.

It does not grow overnight though. If you hear a teenage boy's voice sound like a squealing toy every now and again, you'll know its time for him to start bearing the fruit, so to speak. This is just the body's way of tuning the voice to a larger larynx.

If you've passed the puberty phase, you can feel your Adam's apple by tilting your head backwards and feeling the knob situated in the middle of your neck, just above your thyroid gland. Most girls do not have an Adam's apple, but some do. And this could give you every reason to start worrying. Jokes aside, but it really is no big deal if she does have one, unless it’s bigger than yours.

The origin of the name
The name is quite straightforward. It derives from the biblical story of Adam and Eve. When the two were persuaded by the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit, a piece got stuck in Adam's throat, thus creating the Adam's apple.

Interesting facts

  • Many men and women find a protruding Adam's apple very sexy
  • Some men who want to reduce the size of their Adam's apple, or have it completely removed, can go for a trachea shave. This could be due to its either being quite large, or for those who are in the process of gender reassignment

(Matthew Louw, Health24)



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