Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Janie. Janie Wonders, “Why does tonsillitis occur?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Janie!

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!

Kids often have many questions about tonsils. Where are they? What are they? And what do they do? 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. They have an important job. Tonsils help fight off germs that come in through your nose and mouth and stop them from causing infections in other areas of your body.

Your tonsils usually do a great job of fighting off infections. Sometimes, though, viruses or bacteria get into your tonsils themselves. When this happens, they can cause an infection. Doctors call this tonsillitis.

What are the signs of tonsillitis? Symptoms can include fever and an extremely sore throat. People with this type of infection may also experience bad breath and swollen neck glands. Of course, the tonsils also become inflamed. Doctors can see this by shining a light into your mouth when you say, “Ahhhh.”

If you have tonsillitis, the doctor will usually give you a strep test. This may help them learn the cause of the tonsillitis. It could be 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 procedure is called a tonsillectomy. Not everyone who has this surgery has tonsillitis. Sometimes, doctors remove the tonsils if they are very large and make it hard for the person to breathe at night.

Have you or someone you know had a tonsillectomy? Surgery can sound scary, but most people recover from having their tonsils removed in a few weeks. After the surgery, people need lots of rest and fluids. This helps the body heal and regain strength.

Even without tonsils, the body will continue to fight off infections. This is thanks to the many other parts of the immune system that work hard to keep you healthy!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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