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The Body’s Crime Fighter

Throughout the human body lays an intricate network called the lymphatic system. Made of organs, tissues, and nodes, the system fights infection by removing unwanted toxins. In the nasal cavity and mouth, two important lymphatic tissues live: the adenoids and tonsils.

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Your body’s best-kept secret

Many people have never heard of the hidden lymphatic gem. Just past the tonsils, where the throat meets the nasal cavity, are adenoids. Adenoids are a mass of tissue rich with white blood cells. Unseen with the naked eye, adenoids pack a punch in the fight for a healthy body.

The powerful role of adenoids

When people come into contact with bacteria and potential viruses throughout the day and can sometimes ingest harmful contaminants through the mouth or nose. Adenoids put pesky viruses out of commission by fighting infections. Most noteworthy, adenoids are important for small children with developing immune systems.

What are tonsils?

Before reaching the adenoids, the palatine tonsils are a pair of small masses located at the back of the throat. With one on each side of the tongue, tonsils consist of lymphoid tissue, like adenoids. Tonsils are just one of the many parts of the body’s immune fighting system.

Tonsils are more important than you think

Some people might say tonsils aren’t necessary. Yet, tonsils are one of the first lines of defense for germs entering the mouth. Tonsils trap and kill unwanted germs and signal the immune system to get to work. Tonsils can prevent throat infections, the common cold, and similar ailments.

Fun Fact: Adenoids are also called the pharyngeal tonsils. Adenoids are one of three sets of tonsils in the mouth and throat.

Adenoids and tonsils have limits

As kids grow, adenoids and tonsils shrink, becoming almost non-existent by adulthood. But adenoids and tonsils can also be problematic. Both masses are always at work, so infections and inflammation can occur. When this happens, an ENT may consider removing the tissues. Removing the adenoids is typically a minimally invasive surgery with little downtime.

Bye, bye adenoid

An infected or inflamed adenoid can grow to the size of a small ball. Infections cause difficulty breathing, swallowing, snoring, and sleep apnea. Adenoids are self-healing, but sometimes antibiotics are needed to heal an infection. When the pain is unbearable or the antibiotics ineffective, a doctor may recommend an adenoidectomy.

Taking out the tonsils

The tonsils are prone to several infections and conditions. Strep throat infections, tonsillitis, and mono impact the tonsils. Infected tonsils cause troublesome symptoms like sore throat, fever, bad breath, and difficulty swallowing. Patients, particularly children, with repeated tonsil infections may be good candidates for a tonsillectomy.

Is surgery the best option?

Tonsils and adenoids are important for the safe growth of children into healthy adults. However if the two masses cause constant distress, the best time for surgery is now. With over 500,000 tonsillectomies done yearly, a physician can advise about the best time for surgery. Patients should speak with a physician about the treatment options for inflamed or infected tonsils or adenoids.

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