- The tonsils are two pads of tissue, one on each side of the throat, just above the back of the tongue. The adenoids are a single pad of tissue behind the nose. Together, the tonsils and adenoids form part of the body’s defence against infection. They become much less important after the first few years of life as other parts of the immune system become stronger.
- Sometimes, particularly in childhood, the tonsils and adenoids can become enlarged and infected.
- The tonsils can become infected again and again. Occasionally, they become so large that they make breathing difficult. The tonsils also contain pits called crypts. When the tonsils are swollen, these pits can accumulate food debris and dead skin cells, which are shed constantly. This debris may appear in the back of the throat as white spots on the tonsil. Rarely, this can be a cause of bad breath.
- If your tonsils and adenoids cause a lot of problems, you may need to have them removed. Fortunately, tonsils and adenoids are not essential for a healthy life, and having them removed does not mean that you are more likely to get infections.
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