All you need to know about Tonsils

All you need to know about Tonsils

Tonsils are far more important than you may think.

A lot of organs were categorized as useless but advanced research proved otherwise. Tonsils, a small organ found in the back of the throat, is one of them. It is a part of the lymphatic system which is instrumental in keeping your body healthy. Earlier, the doctors prescribed their removal whenever an infection was observed.

Nowadays, as the functions of this organ are identified, this practice is avoided until extreme necessity. A human body possesses three types of tonsils named as Palatine tonsils, Lingual tonsils, and the Pharyngeal tonsils (adenoids). The word ‘tonsils’ is commonly used to refer to the palatine tonsils. These oval clusters of lymph cells are found in the pharynx at the opening of either side of the throat.

Tonsils have some important duties to perform. Firstly, they are assigned the duties of a filter. They scan all the bacteria and viruses that enter either through our mouth or nose. Harmful commodities are then removed by using Lymph, a colorless fluid found inside the human body. Similarly, tonsils prevent any foreign object from entering the lungs. In light of all these reasons, the American Academy of Otolaryngology regarded them as the first line of defense in the human immune system. Last but not the least, they produce antibodies and white blood cells which are essential for the defensive mechanism of our bodies. Hence, it does too much good to be called a ‘useless’ organ.

The most common problem associated with them, caused by a viral or bacterial infection, is called Tonsillitis. It involves inflammation and swelling of tonsils which makes it hard for you to swallow anything. It is very common in children as the size of their tonsils is greater than adults. The most common symptom is that the inflamed tonsils are red and obvious. Contrary to that, the color of healthy tonsils is pink and they are hardly visible. Other symptoms include fever, ear pain, bad breath, and difficulty in swallowing. In severe cases, patients may experience the tenderness of jaw and throat.

There are two major types of Tonsillitis namely Bacterial Tonsillitis and Strep Throat. All the signs of Bacterial Tonsillitis have already been discussed above. Drinking plenty of water, gargling with salt water, and use of pain-killers does help with the inflammation. Having said that, you can consult your doctor and he will treat it with an Antibiotic. This remedy works only if the Tonsillitis is caused by a bacterial infection. In case of a viral attack, your body will overcome the odds itself and you can assist it through home-based cures.

Strep throat is caused by a specific bacteria called Streptococcus. This can be much more painful as white spots appear on the tonsils and a white-colored pus accumulates in the throat. If strep remains untreated, it can slowly but surely lead to Scarlet or Rheumatic Fever. All this could result in some serious implications like Necrotizing Fasciitis, Toxic Shock Syndrome, and a permanent damage to the heart. Dr. Stacey Silvers of Madison Skin and Laser Center explained that in the following words:

The inflammatory process can occur soon after a strep infection or weeks later. Many patients don’t remember having the initial sore throat. Rheumatic fever can be mild or very serious causing permanent damage to the heart.”   

Sometimes the occurrence of tonsillitis becomes so frequent that the doctors have no other option but to go for the surgical procedure to remove the tonsils. The scientific name given to this process is Tonsillectomy. Professional doctors try to avoid it as much as possible and the following statement from Dr. Erich P. Voigt, an Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, explains the reasons for that. He said,

A last resort cure of this problem is tonsillectomy. However, this surgery carries risks of anesthesia, pain, and bleeding, as well as other risks, thus a decision of this type must be balanced by a risk/benefit discussion.”  

As bleeding is a major concern in this surgery, the patients are advised to stop taking anti-inflammatory medicines two weeks before the surgery. The presence of anesthesia means that you will need to fast at least after midnight in order to avoid nausea. There are quite a lot of ways for Tonsillectomy but the most common ones are Cold Knife Dissection (tonsils are removed with a scalpel) and Cauterization (the lymph tissues are burned away).

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