5 Surprising Facts About Adam's Apples

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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  • Young man outdoors with head back, eyes closed

    The Adam’s apple is more formally known as the thyroid cartilage, which is in front of the voice box and grows larger during puberty. While the Adam’s apple’s purpose is next to nothing, it’s a common physical feature in men. There are some myths about Adam’s apples, such as where the name came from, so find out more surprising facts about Adam’s apples here.

  • 1
    Perhaps it should be called the Adam and Eve apple.
    Man smiling at woman lifting weights

    That’s because women can also have an Adam’s apple. Many people think only men have Adam’s apples, but actually everyone has one because the Adam’s apple is simply the cartilage in front of the larynx, or voice box. A man’s Adam’s apple tends to grow bigger than a woman’s does, so a man’s sticks out more prominently. The Adam’s apple in women is usually not visible, but sometimes it is.

  • 2
    The name didn’t actually come from the biblical story in Genesis.
    Pomegranate Half on Plate

    While it seems logical that the name “Adam’s apple” comes from the story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden (and the fruit getting stuck in Adam’s throat as a reminder of his sin), that’s not where the term originated. Going back to the early 1600s, European writers used Latin variations of the term Adam’s apple to refer to various fruits, including the pomegranate. At the same time, medieval Arabic medical writers, for some unknown reason, settled on the term “pomegranate” to refer to the protrusion of cartilage in the throat. It just so happens that the Latin terms for “apple” and “pomegranate” are very similar, so when translated into English, the Adam’s apple got its name from a pomegranate.

  • 3
    The Adam’s apple anatomy can be helpful during breathing emergencies.
    Paramedics wheeling gurney with young woman into emergency room

    A cricothyroidotomy is the cut made in the throat to insert a tracheostomy tube for breathing. If a breathing tube cannot be inserted through the nose or mouth for some reason, the next choice is through the cricothyroid membrane, which is between the thyroid cartilage and the cricoid cartilage. The Adam’s apple, which is another name for the thyroid cartilage, helps orient the person inserting the hollow needle into the throat.

  • 4
    Plastic surgery makes Adam’s apple removal possible.
    Hispanic doctor examining neck of patient

    Well, maybe not total removal, but a size reduction often makes a big difference for patients who want a less noticeable Adam’s apple. In a procedure called a chondrolaryngoplasty, or tracheal shaving, a plastic surgeon removes or reduces the size of the thyroid cartilage, usually creating a more feminine appearance. Done carefully, the surgery won’t change the sound of the person’s voice, which is a risk if the larynx and vocal cords are damaged during the procedure.

  • 5
    Adam’s apple pain could be a sign of a bigger problem.
    Throat exam

    While it may not be the Adam’s apple itself that’s hurting, pain in your neck and throat near the Adam’s apple can potentially be a serious problem. Sore throat and pain when swallowing are two symptoms of laryngeal cancer, but this disease also comes with a lot of other symptoms, such as persistent cough, hoarseness, difficulty breathing, bad breath, and persistent ear pain.

    Pain in your neck and throat can also be a symptom of advanced thyroid cancer, but it, too, comes with other symptoms, such as swollen lymph nodes and hoarseness. Before you start panicking, remember that sore throat can just be a symptom of the common cold or heartburn. If you’re concerned about persistent pain near your Adam’s apple, talk to your doctor.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Jun 18
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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