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What's an Adam's Apple?

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You're at the high school baseball game with your friends, and you see your big brother's friend Justin in the dugout drinking from a water bottle. With every sip he takes, a big bump moves up and down on the front of his neck.

The boys your age don't have bumps like that, you think to yourself. And come to think of it, neither do any of the girls you know, no matter how old they are. What's going on here?

When kids hit puberty, their bodies and minds go through tons of changes. One change that every kid can count on is lots of body parts growing and changing shape. Almost every part gets in on the growing action, including the larynx (say: LAIR-inks).

Another name for the larynx is the voice box, and it's in the throat. The larynx is what gives you your voice, whether you're talking, laughing, whispering, singing, or screaming! You can find your larynx by touching the front of your throat and humming. When you feel vibrations under your fingers, you've found it!

When the larynx grows larger during puberty, it sticks out at the front of the throat. This is what's called an Adam's apple. Everyone's larynx grows during puberty, but a girl's larynx doesn't grow as much as a boy's does. That's why boys have Adam's apples. Most girls don't have Adam's apples, but some do. It's no big deal either way.

But why is it called an Adam's apple? If you think it's called that after the story of the Garden of Eden where Adam ate a piece of the forbidden fruit that got stuck in his throat, you're right. An Adam's apple sometimes looks like a small, rounded apple just under the skin in the front of the throat.

This larger larynx also gives boys deeper voices. Actually, girls' voices get a little bit deeper as their larynxes get larger, too. But because boys' larynxes grow so much more, it makes their voices deeper than girls' voices.

The larynx doesn't grow to its new size overnight, though. If you've ever heard a teenage boy's voice sound squeaky, you've heard a larynx trying to get adjusted to its new size!

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: September 2013

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995–2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.

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