What to know about the Adam's apple
Adam's apples develop during puberty and are not present in prepubescent children.
They are often more prominent in males, who tend to develop larger larynxes than females. As the larynx grows behind the Adam's apple, it pushes the lump of cartilage outward.
The size of the Adam's apple varies. Here, we describe what an Adam's apple is, why it develops, and options for removal or reduction.
What is an Adam's apple?
The Adam's apple is cartilage in the throat.
The Adam's apple, also known as the laryngeal prominence, is made of cartilage. This is a connective tissue present throughout the body.
Cartilage is strong, but softer and more flexible than bone, and it makes up several other areas of the neck.
The Adam's apple develops during puberty. It grows around the front of the larynx, just above the thyroid. It is usually more prominent in males.
Why do Adam's apples develop?
During puberty, the larynx grows and pushes the developing Adam's apple outward.
The larynx, or voice box, is the area at the front of the neck that contains the vocal cords. These are folds of tissue that vibrate to produce sounds.
Along with other body parts, such as the mouth and nasal passages, the larynx produces the voice. It also protects the airways during swallowing.
The larynx grows extensively during puberty. A larger larynx produces deeper sounds, as there is more room for the vibrations to resonate.
The cartilage around the larynx forms a shield to protect it from injury. The Adam's apple protrudes as the larynx grows, but it serves no individual function.
Difference in males and females?
Both men and women have an Adam's apple
Both males and females develop Adam's apples, but they tend to stick out more in males than in females.
This is because the male larynx generally grows bigger and faster during puberty.
A larger larynx explains why males tend to have deeper and louder voices than females.
It is important to remember, however, that this is not always the case.
Hormonal differences affect the way that the larynx, and Adam's apple, develop. As a result of these differences, a male may have a smaller larynx and a voice with a higher pitch.
For the same reason, a female may have a larger larynx, a more prominent Adam's apple, and a voice with a lower pitch.
Adam's apple surgery and removal
The size of the Adam's apple does not impact physical health in any way.
However, the size can be problematic if a person feels that it does not match their body type or gender identity.
For example, someone with a prominent Adam's apple may feel uncomfortable with what they perceive as a masculine trait. Others may wish to have a bigger Adam's apple for the same reason.
It is possible to enlarge the Adam's apple by transplanting cartilage from elsewhere in the body.
It is also possible to remove excess cartilage from the area around the thyroid, reducing the size of the Adam's apple.
Can a big Adam's apple be a sign of another condition?
Conditions such as laryngitis can cause the Adam's apple to appear bigger.
The Adam's apple does not serve any medically relevant function, and the size does not relate to any health condition.
However, some conditions can cause swelling in the larynx or growth in surrounding areas.
This can cause the Adam's apple to appear larger than usual.
Examples of these conditions include:
- laryngitis, which is inflammation of the larynx
- pharyngitis, which is inflammation of the back of the throat
- laryngeal cancer
- thyroid cancer
Treatment for a large Adam's apple varies, depending on the cause. It may involve medications such as antibiotics or corticosteroids.
The Adam's apple is a growth that protrudes from the thyroid cartilage. The size depends on how large the larynx grows, but Adam's apples are typically bigger in males.
A change in the size of a surrounding area can make the Adam's apple appear larger, and this can indicate a more serious underlying condition.
The Adam's apple itself does not impact health, but some people choose to change the size through surgery.