Do We Really Need Our Tonsils?

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We’re all born with them, and sometimes they give us a lot more hassle than they’re worth. Tonsils. What are they, and why do we need them? Why do so many people get them removed if we don’t need them? 

Our tonsils are two small glands that are located at the back of the throat. Most of the time we don’t notice them unless we take to inspecting our throats often. They are what our bodies use as their first defenses against bacteria that try to invade.  

They can, however, become infected themselves, becoming inflamed with a condition called tonsillitis. 
Most often, tonsillitis will get better within a few days of taking antibiotics and eating soft, soothing foods as the infection passes. Sometimes an Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor will recommend having them removed. To find out what an ENT Doctor does and is qualified to do, you should try this page to see what other conditions they deal with as well as tonsillitis. 

What are the symptoms of tonsillitis?

Are you wondering if your sore throat is something a little more serious? The symptoms of tonsillitis are a little more than just a sore throat. 

The most common symptoms of tonsillitis are: 

  • Severe sore throat
  • White/ yellow patches on the throat and tonsils
  • Swollen, inflamed tonsils that are tender to the touch from your neck 
  • Bad breath
  • Pain or difficulty swallowing
  • Feeling feverish

If you find yourself suffering with some of these symptoms, then it is likely that you have developed tonsillitis and should seek medical attention.

Treatment for tonsillitis will include; a course of antibiotics, fever medicine, eating soft, cooling foods such as ice cream, as well as foods that help to remove some of the bacteria from the back of your throat such as dry toast. 

However, for persistent cases, you may need to speak with an ENT who may encourage you to consider a tonsillectomy. 

How do I know if I need my tonsils removed? 

There are several instances where an ENT doctor will recommend the procedure for tonsil removal known as a tonsillectomy. 

They are mainly to do with the frequency and severity of your tonsillitis cases. For example; you are experiencing seven or more tonsil infections in just one year, more than five tonsil infections a year for two years in a row,  three infections per year for three years in a row.

If your infected tonsils are not responding to antibiotics or your tonsils become so enlarged that you are experiencing difficulty breathing or are suffering with obstructive sleep. 

What can I expect from a tonsillectomy?

A tonsillectomy will be performed in a hospital under general anesthesia. Since this is a minor procedure, patients can expect to go home the very same day. It takes  around twenty minutes to an hour and will not require stitches.

Following the procedure, it is important to take enough time to rest and recover for up to one week before returning to normal activities.

So in short, we don’t really need our tonsils, but it’s best to leave them where they are unless advised by an ENT.

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