Glottis: what is the role of this part of the larynx? : Current Woman Le MAG

The glottis is a part of the larynx, an organ which is located in the throat. As such, the glottis performs several essential missions. It indeed participates in the proper functioning of breathing and swallowing, but also of phonation, that is to say the ability to emit sounds.

1. Where exactly is the glottis located?

As the definition in the Larousse dictionary indicates, the glottis is the “middle part of the cavity of the larynx, bordered by the two vocal cords”. It is therefore part of the larynx. The latter is the organ which ensures the junction between the base of the tongue and the trachea, which is the respiratory tract descending to the lungs. The glottis should not be confused with the uvula, also called ulula. The uvula is a small movable growth of flesh that is approximately 10 mm long, visible at the back of the oral cavity. The glottis is the opening located just below the uvula, behind the base of the tongue.

2. What is the role of the glottis?

The glottis can open and close. This ability is essential for breathing well, protecting the airways or even being able to speak. This allows it to fulfill several roles:

  • allow air to pass through the airway when it is open;
  • prevent the passage of liquids or solid elements into the airways when it is closed;
  • allow the passage of air which vibrates the vocal cords to form sounds, and thus speak or sing.

3. What pathologies can affect the glottis?

Inflammation of the glottis and more broadly of the larynx can sometimes occur. Laryngitis, a disease of viral origin, can for example “result in swelling of the throat at the level of the glottis”, as specified by the Public Health Information Service. This results in a hoarse cough and difficulty breathing, but also swallowing. This illness often follows a cold or flu, and can affect both adults and children. The larynx and therefore the glottis can also be affected by cancer. As indicated by the Léon Bérard Cancer Center, this type of cancer “is ranked 17th among the most common cancers, all sexes combined, in France “.

4. How to take care of the glottis?

To take care of your glottis, and more generally your larynx which plays an important role in breathing and the ability to speak, it is recommended to avoid irritants such as tobacco and alcohol, which can contribute to the appearance of inflammation. Furthermore, maintaining good hydration on a daily basis is important. Finally, gargling with warm salt water can relieve symptoms related to inflammation of the larynx. If symptoms appear, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional who can establish a diagnosis and offer the most appropriate medical treatment.


  • Glottis, Larousse Dictionary
  • Laryngitis, Public Health Information Service, March 22, 2022
  • Laryngeal cancer, Léon Bérard Cancer Center, June 29, 2023

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