What are tonsils?

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:46 pm
Tonsils are glands located on sides of your throat, just behind the tongue. They can be seen with the naked eye. Their purpose is to sample incoming bacteria from the mouth and create antibodies to help the body deal with them. Tonsils serve this function in babies, while the immune system is still forming. By the time a child reaches the age of three, the tonsils will have done the majority of their work. After this time, they are particularly susceptible to infection. Antibiotics are generally effective when fighting inflamed tonsils. However, if your child has frequent infections or doesn't respond to medication the tonsils may have to be removed. The adenoids, which serve as a similar function, are frequently removed at the same time. This is a safe, simple procedure performed on hundreds of thousands of children each year. An ear, nose and throat specialist should be consulted if tonsil problems persist.
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