Do you know any friends who have had their tonsils taken out? They probably missed school and got to eat ice cream for several days. While that may sound like fun, we bet they would have rather been in school that whole time!

So where exactly are your tonsils? These small pieces of soft tissue — one on the right and one on the left — sit all the way at the back of your throat.

Tonsils have an important job. They help fight off germs that come in through your nose and mouth. Your tonsils try to prevent germs from causing infections in other areas of your body.

Your tonsils usually do a really good job of fighting off infections. Sometimes, though, viruses or bacteria get into your tonsils and cause an infection in them. When this happens, the doctor will tell you that you have tonsillitis.

Common signs of tonsillitis include fever, extremely sore throat, bad breath, swollen neck glands and inflammation of the tonsils that a doctor can see by shining a light into your mouth when you say, “Ahhhh.”

If you have tonsillitis, the doctor will usually give you a “strep test” to see whether the tonsillitis is caused by bacteria (called streptococci bacteria) or a virus. If you have streptococci bacteria in your throat, the doctor can give you antibiotics to kill the bacteria. If not, you have tonsillitis caused by a virus and your body will fight it on its own.

If you start having tonsillitis frequently, your tonsils may be doing more harm than good. When this happens, a doctor may recommend removing your tonsils. This simple procedure is called a tonsillectomy. A tonsillectomy may also be a good idea if you happen to have really large tonsils that make it hard to breathe at night.

If you need a tonsillectomy, don’t worry about it! After a tonsillectomy, you don’t look any different. There aren’t any scars to see either. Even without your tonsils, your body’s germ-fighting systems will continue to help you fight off infections.

Although a tonsillectomy may sound scary, it’s actually an easy procedure that only lasts about 20 minutes. Doctors will give you anesthesia, so you won’t feel any pain. You’ll need a lot of rest and fluids for a week or so after a tonsillectomy, but you’ll be back up to speed before you know it!


34 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (15 votes, avg. 4.20 out of 5)
    • That’s OK, Samuel! Guessing the next day’s Wonder is just an extra fun thing to do…it doesn’t really matter who’s wrong or right as long as we all learn some FUN new things together by exploring in Wonderopolis! Thanks for being a SUPER Wonder Friend! :-)

  1. No! :( I was wrong. Today’s wonder of the day is not about brushing your teeth. However, I loved today’s wonder! :D I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day is about marching bands.


    • That’s a really great guess about tomorrow’s Wonder, TJ! We’re proud of you for having FUN trying to guess the next Wonder of the Day®. We hope you and Samuel have a WONDERful day! :-)

    • We like that guess a lot, Rahul! We would really like to WONDER about parade floats…it would be SO MUCH FUN! :-)

    • Thanks for letting us know what you thought about the video for today’s Wonder, Rachel! We really appreciate your opinion! We’re so happy to hear that you love learning in Wonderopolis, because WE DO, TOO! :-)

  2. Wow I think that was kinda gross. I had tonsils, but they got taken out a long time ago, and now I feel way better. Wonderopolis rocks!

    • Thanks for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder of the Day®, AJ! We appreciate your comment and also that you let us know what you think about today’s Wonder, as well! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing what you think tomorrow’s Wonder will be, Wonder Girl! We think myths are SUPER FUN to WONDER about! :-)

    • That’s a really great question, “Wonder!” We’re pretty sure you can have your tonsils your whole life if they don’t ever give you any problems! We know a few “not-so-young” Wonder Friends who still have their tonsils! :-)

  3. Hey, anyone forget about me?

    This wonder was pretty cool.
    I think tomorrow’s wonder is about balloons or parade floats.

    -from the girl who is currently watching a genorator rex dvd that won’t stop skipping!-
    You guys should make a wonder about wonders of the day!

    • We never forget our Wonder Friends, YuGiOhNinja! Thanks for stopping by Wonderopolis and sharing your awesome comment with us today! It’s GREAT to hear from you again! :-)

    • Thanks so much for sharing about your teacher and her tonsil experience, Julie! We really appreciate hearing when our Wonder Friends (like YOU!) make personal connections to a specific Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • We’re REALLY glad you learned some cool new facts about tonsils by exploring this Wonder of the Day® together, Alissa and Alice! Way to go! We hope you both have an AWESOME day! :-)

    • We’re proud of you, Zac! Thanks for visiting today’s Wonder to see if your guess from yesterday was correct…we think that ROCKS! We hope you had as much fun learning about tonsils as we did! :-)

    • Thanks so much for visiting Wonderopolis from India today, Mario! We think that’s really, really AWESOME! If you happen see our Wonder Friend, Rithik, please tell him we said, “Hello!” :-)

    • We think sometimes learning about things that can be considered gross can actually be LOTS of fun, Morgan! Everyone has different things they WONDER about! Thank you for sharing your opinion of this Wonder and also for visiting Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • Thanks for letting us know you aren’t scared about getting your tonsils out, TT, and THANKS for being a GREAT Wonder Friend! We really like all the smileys you left for us, too! :-)

    • We certainly hope your classmate is feeling better after having his or her tonsils removed! Sometimes, even at a young age, certain people need their tonsils removed in order to avoid sore throats and feeling sick. We are glad that you shared your comment with us– great job WONDERing, Skye! :)

  4. Hi Wonderopolis, I have 2 questions for you, are you a boy or girl and what games do you play on a tablet?

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Why do we have tonsils?
  • Where are your tonsils?
  • What is a tonsillectomy?


Wonder Gallery

doctor looking in child's throat_shutterstock_41582614Vimeo Video

Try It Out

If you have to have your tonsils taken out, can you still fight germs? Sure you can! There are several ways you can fight germs every day. Read through these tips and try to make them part of your daily routine as much as possible!

  • Wash your hands! Washing your hands regularly helps you get rid of nasty germs that you can pick up from all sorts of places, such as doorknobs, desks and other people!
  • Sneeze into your arm! Help others stay healthy by not spreading your own germs around to other people. Set an example for others and hopefully they will follow your lead.
  • Drink plenty of water and eat nutritious foods. Your body’s natural defenses are great germ fighters, so make sure you’re feeding and watering your body in a way that will let it live up to its full potential!


Still Wondering

Explore Science NetLinks’ Health Literacy resource collection for great resources to help you learn more about health and medicine.


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