What are tonsils and why do we need them?

Tonsillitis Iinfection of the tonsils) is an illness many of us have had. It's especially prevalent in childhood.  But, what exactly are tonsils?  And why do we need them?

The tonsils are two lymph nodes that can be found on either side of the back on your throat. They act as a barrier of defence for your body, protecting it from infection-causing agents that enter through mouth. The tonsils trap the germs and also produce antibodies to help fight infection. 

What is tonsillitis?

When the tonsils are overwhelmed by infectious agents, they become inflamed and swollen. They may also look red and have a yellow or white coating. This infection of the tonsils is known as tonsillitis

In most cases, tonsillitis is caused by a viral infection. It can, however, also be caused by bacteria. Some people might have to have surgery to remove their tonsils, this is known as a tonsillectomy. It was once a very common procedure, especially in childhood. In recent times, however, this surgical option is only considered for recurring bouts of tonsillitis where all other treatments have been exhausted and the sufferer has not responded to any of them. 


Adults are less prone to getting tonsillitis. The reason for this is multifactoral. Firstly,  the tonsils role in immune system functionality declines after puberty. This makes them less prone to infection as they're not working as hard as they once did to ward off infections. Secondly, the adult immune system is generally far stronger overall. This means that it can fend off infections more effectively using other immune system functions as opposed to just the tonsils. 

NEXT Types of tonsillitis

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