Tonsils are lymph nodes or filters of infection. However, being located directly inside the mouth, they can become infected themselves. As there are over 100 other lymph nodes within the head and neck region and these can also filter infection, the removal of the tonsils has not been linked to an increase in infections.
Repeated episodes of tonsillitis can impact greatly on a family particularly in terms of missed school, daycare and work. Tonsillitis often causes a sore throat, which may be accompanied by fevers, chills and painful swallowing. The pain may be so great that some patients may need admission to hospital. Occasionally a patient may develop a tonsil abscess or “quinsy” which needs to be drained.
Antibiotics may reduce the numbers of bacteria in the tonsils on a temporary basis but sometimes the tonsils carry a constant colony of infective bacteria. In this case they are no longer filtering infection and their removal may lead to better health.
Once a certain number of infections has been reached, or a patient has a serious complication, the removal of the tonsils may be recommended to prevent further infections. Dr Hodge can discuss your individual circumstances and make a recommendation about whether this is the right option for you or your family member.