What Do Tonsils Do?

Everybody’s heard of tonsils before, and believe it or not, at some point in the past, tonsils were thought of as useless organs that the body has evolved out of. However, tonsils turned out to be important for the human body’s health and its immune system.
That said, this post sets out to answer common questions like “What are tonsils?” and “What do tonsils do?” So read on to get an idea of what they are and more.

What Are Tonsils?

Tonsils are small organs that are part of the lymphatic system. They play a role in protecting the human body from many diseases.
There are three pairs of tonsils in the human body.
  • The first pair of tonsils are visible when the mouth is open and are named the Palatine tonsils. They can be seen by the naked eye at the back of the throat on both the left and right sides.
  • The second pair is behind the nose and can’t be seen unless a camera is inserted into the body or unless a doctor inserts a small mirror in your mouth. Those are named the Adenoids.
  • The third pair of tonsils is also not visible due to their position. They’re called the lingual tonsils and are found at the far end of the tongue, which makes them hard to see.

What Do Tonsils Do?

Since they’re part of the human body’s immune system and are at the entryways of the human body, they’re considered to be the body’s first line of defense.
The three sets of tonsils face pathogens as well as particulates in the air. They protect the body from any foreign germs, viruses, or bacteria as they try to enter it through the nose or mouth.
The tonsils have other functions as well, including producing white blood cells along with antibodies that fight the previously mentioned foreign particles.
They also push back and prevent objects from entering the lungs. So, as you can see, they’re pretty much the gatekeepers when it comes to anything external getting into your body.
Unfortunately, even though their main function is to protect the body, they themselves can get infected.

What Happens to the Tonsils When They Get Infected?

Tonsils face a lot of bacteria and viruses, making them a playground for some infective agents, so it’s common for them to get infected causing tonsillitis.
Tonsillitis happens when the tonsils are overwhelmed by viruses or germs, and is essentially the inflammation of the lymph nodes, and it’s the Palatine tonsils that usually get the brunt of it.
Due to their location in the body, the Palatine tonsils visibly swell up, causing issues in that area. Those issues include the feeling of a sore throat, coughing, pain when swallowing, fever, and headaches.
This infection tends to happen more in children than adults. That’s due to them being exposed to germs in the outside world such as in schools, playgrounds, and from other children who already have it.

What to Do When the Tonsils Get Infected?

The best course of action is to go to your doctor to get diagnosed properly. They’ll do a physical examination and inspect the tonsils for any infections.
The doctor will also check if there are other infections affecting the other tonsils and inspect the symptoms you have.
According to the prognosis of the situation, the doctor will offer the best solutions available to counteract the infection and resolve it.
The solutions can range from remedies to do at home or antibiotics, according to if the infection is bacterial or viral.

What Are Some Home Remedies Doctors Recommend?

There are some home remedies that you can apply to help reduce the pain you might be going through as the medicine combats the disease.
Among the recommended remedies:
  • Get a lot of rest
  • Gargle some warm salt water a few times during the day
  • Use throat lozenges that will numb your throat solving the sore throat problem
  • Drink more fluids
  • Set up a humidifier in your room
  • Stop vaping or smoking
  • Eat smooth foods that don’t have rough edges, so as to not damage the swollen tonsils
  • Refrain from talking too much, or straining your voice
Whichever remedy you decide to opt for, always refer back to your doctor to make sure you’re getting the best treatment possible.

Can the Tonsils Be Removed Completely?

While doctors will do their absolute best to help you keep your tonsils, there’s a procedure called tonsillectomy through which the tonsils are removed from your body.
You might be thinking to yourself, why would someone want to remove their tonsils? Well, there are several reasons that might lead to the choice.
Reasons to get a tonsillectomy:
  • In some children, the tonsils can be too big, causing difficulty breathing
  • Chronic tonsillitis, which leads to repeated episodes of the disease
  • If they’re large in size, tonsils can lead to sleep apnea, as well as loud snoring
  • Tonsil cancer

Will Removing the Tonsils Affect the Body’s Immune System?

No, it won’t. There have been a lot of studies regarding what would happen after the tonsils are removed from the body.
These studies reported that tonsillectomies have “no clinically significant negative effect on the immune system.”

How to Keep Tonsils Safe and Healthy?

There are a few ways through which you can keep your tonsils healthy and well-protected from infections in the future, including:
  • Avoid using anything that can be shared by a person who’s infected with tonsillitis. This includes food, utensils, water bottles, and drinking glasses.
  • Maintain good mouth hygiene, since brushing your teeth and using mouthwash will kill any bacteria that might have built up in your mouth throughout the day.
  • Once infected with tonsillitis, the infected person’s toothbrush must be changed because it will contain some of the bacteria or viruses that caused the infection.
  • Wash your hands after any activity to ensure there aren’t any contaminants. This is really important, especially before eating.
  • Limit the consumption of alcohol and stop smoking.