Monday, July 16, 2007
Tonsils and Adenoids
What are adenoids and tonsils?
Tonsils are made of soft glandular tissue and are part of the immune system. You have two tonsils, one on either side at the back of the mouth. Tonsils vary in size from person to person. A main function of tonsils is to trap bacteria and viruses (germs) which you may breathe in. Antibodies and immune cells in the tonsils help to kill germs and help to prevent throat and lung infections.
You can normally see your tonsils by opening your mouth wide and looking in a mirror. They are the two fleshy lumps that you can see at the sides and back of the mouth.
Adenoids are also made of glandular tissue and are part of the immune system. They hang from the upper part of the back of the nasal cavity. Adenoids get bigger after you are born but usually stop growing between the ages of 3 and 7 years. You cannot see your adenoids. If needed, a doctor can look at the adenoids either by using a light and a small mirror held at the back of the mouth, or by using a small flexible telescope. Occasionally, an x-ray is done to determine the size of the adenoids.
Like tonsils, adenoids help to defend the body from infection. They trap bacteria and viruses which you breathe in through your nose. Like tonsils, they contain cells and antibodies of the immune system to help prevent throat and lung infections.
Although tonsils and adenoids may help to prevent infection, they are not considered to be very important. The body has other means of preventing infection and fighting off bacteria and viruses. In fact, the adenoids tend to shrink after early childhood, and by the teenage years they often almost disappear completely. Generally, you can have your tonsils and adenoids removed without increasing your risk of infection.
Labels: Adenoids and Tonsils