Medical Q&As

Floppy larynx - what does it mean?

My three-week-old grandson had a funny noise in his throat. The GP referred him to the hospital and the consultant told his parents that he had a floppy larynx. Can you please explain what this means?

The term floppy larynx is also known as laryngomalacia or congenital laryngeal stridor. It is a form of noisy breathing that occurs in infants as the child inspires or breathes in. It is due to a flabby epiglottis, which is the flap of tissue that overhangs the entrance to the larynx or windpipe. The epiglottis acts like a lid on the larynx thereby preventing food and liquid from being aspirated onto the lungs during the act of swallowing. The closed epiglottis directs the food and liquid down the gullet and into the stomach. During the act of inspiration the epiglottis opens thereby allowing air to be inhaled into the lungs. If it is swollen or flabby it creates a noise during inspiration. The condition does not have any long-term implications for the child’s well being. The stridor or noisy breathing usually disappears before the second birthday. There are no implications regarding the child’s speech development.