Abnormal Adam's Apple

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The Adam's Apple houses the larynx, which is also known as the voice box.
The Adam's Apple houses the larynx, which is also known as the voice box. (Image: musculos del cuello image by caironbohemio from Fotolia.com)

An abnormal Adam's apple can mean a number of things. Abnormally large or swollen Adam's Apples can either be a short-term or a long-term characteristic of a variety of conditions, ranging from cancer to puberty. Some people may confuse a tender or painful Adam's apple, or lump in the throat type of feeling, with inflamed thyroids. Men who are born with larger Adam's Apples than others usually have certain qualities and characteristics in their voices. Knowing the changes that occur in puberty and times of illness, as well as other conditions such as cancer, can help identify what is leading to a man's Adam's Apple being abnormal.

Thyroid

Inflamed thyroids can affect how the Adam's apple feels when touched. That lump in the throat feeling when a person is sick can cause discomfort when swallowing, and can give the illusion that it is the Adam's apple that is hurting. However, the Adam's apple is connected to the thyroid glands, which are the source of the pain rather than the Adam's apple itself. Thyroids are responsible for producing hormones and special immuno-defense cells that help the body to fight off infections. If the thyroids are swollen, then that usually means that the body is fighting a sickness.

Abnormally Large Adam's Apples

Since men with abnormally large Adam's apples also have larger voice boxes, their voices are deeper than men with smaller Adam's apples and voice boxes. Larger Adam's apples mean more room in the voice box for the vocal cords of the larynx to stretch. When the vocal cords vibrate, there is a deeper pitch associated with the sound waves coming from the vocal cords. Men with larger Adam's apples, and hence voice boxes, are also thought to have the potential to be better singers and vocalists than those without larger voice boxes..

Second Adam's Apple

Some people describe one of the signs of the early stages of thyroid cancer as having the appearance of a second Adam's apple. Thyroid cancer occurs in women four times as much as in men, and kills about 1,400 Americans per year. At first, the lump, which constitutes the second Adam's apple, is painless and moves up and down upon swallowing, much like the real Adam's apple. Other symptoms can include coughing up blood, difficulty swallowing solid foods, hoarseness, persistent cough, and pain that radiates to the jaw and ear.

Puberty

The Adam's apple generally begins to develop and protrude during the later stages of puberty for adolescent males. For some, the Adam's apple may grow faster than other parts of the body, making it to appear bigger than normal. However, as puberty unfolds, other developments will allow the body to catch up, making the Adam's apple appear proportional to the size of the neck and rest of the body. When adolescent males' voices squeak, it is because the Adam's apple and the voice box are going through a growth period.

Legend of Origins

The Adam's apple is called this because of the story of the Garden of Eden. According to the story, Adam, the first man, ate a piece of fruit, purportedly an apple, from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The piece of fruit became stuck in his throat.

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