Have you ever wondered what your tonsils are for? Velocity Care explains the purpose of this mysterious body part..
You probably know that your tonsils are located somewhere in your throat. But do you know their purpose? And why do so many people have their tonsils surgically removed?
What are tonsils?
We are all born with two tonsils located at the back of our throats in an area known as the pharynx. They are small masses of tissue that are pink in color and have tiny pits or craters in them called crypts. Tonsils are glands that are a part of the body’s lymphatic system. This system is one of the body’s defenses against disease. The tonsils help to fight off infections before they enter farther into the body. Tonsils work as part of the immune system and help to keep you free from viruses and bacteria.
Why do some people have their tonsils removed?
In many people, especially children, the tonsils don’t work as effectively as they should in warding off viruses and bacteria, and they end up becoming infected. In the past, it was standard procedure to remove a child’s tonsils to prevent any infections from occurring, especially since some infections can lead to more serious health issues. Today, with advancements in medical care and the multiple antibiotic options available, the removal of the tonsils (also known as a tonsillectomy) has become much less common. However, tonsillectomies are still seen in people who suffer from frequent, recurrent infections.
What are common illnesses that affect the tonsils?
- Tonsillitis. Chronic tonsillitis is one of the most common reasons for people to have their tonsils removed. Any number of viruses or bacteria can cause this infection. The tonsils become red, swollen and sore, making eating, swallowing and talking difficult. Doctors can easily treat this condition with antibiotics; it usually lasts five to seven days.
- Strep throat. The streptococcus bacteria cause a strep throat infection. The bacteria infect the throat and tonsil area, resulting in a severe sore throat, which makes swallowing extremely difficult. The tonsils become red and enlarged, and often, white areas of pus appear on the tonsils. This condition requires antibiotics, and if not treated, it may develop into a more serious problem.
- Mononucleosis. The Epstein-Barr virus causes mononucleosis, which makes the tonsils swell and become inflamed. Someone with mono may also experience a rash, fever, sore throat and extreme lethargy and fatigue.
- Tonsiloliths. The tonsils have tiny pockets, or crypts, in which food particles, bacteria and saliva can get caught. Often these pockets become filled with these tiny particles, which harden together forming tonsiloliths, also known as tonsil stones. These stones can cause pain, swelling, a sore throat and bad breath to occur.
Although our tonsils play an important role in helping our immune system to keep us healthy, our bodies are extremely adaptable and can learn to live without them if a tonsillectomy is necessary. If you have questions about your tonsils, have recurrent infections or are suffering from a sore throat, Velocity Care Urgent Treatment Center can give you the relief that you need. We have multiple convenient locations in the states of Arkansas and Louisiana, and we pride ourselves on being able to provide the most up-to-date treatment options with little to no wait time for our patients. Please visit our website for a full list of our services.
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