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!