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Human Anatomy – Tonsils

human-anatomy-tonsilsPalatine tonsils, or simply, tonsils, are the two masses of tissue you see at the back of your throat. They form part of the lymphatic system, the organs in the body which serve to fend off infections. Made up of cells not unlike those in the lymph nodes, the tonsils grow in size whenever the body is fighting an infection.

Common tonsil conditions

However, the tonsils themselves can succumb to infections. For one, you probably had to endure a bout of tonsillitis at some point in your life.

If your tonsils swell, seem to be coated with white or gray spots, you probably have acute tonsillitis. This condition happens when a virus or bacterium attacks the tonsils. As a result, your throat becomes sore, and you have trouble swallowing food. If it becomes recurrent, this condition may worsen to a chronic tonsillitis.

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Other tonsil conditions to watch out for:

  • Strep throat. It occurs when the bacteria Streptococcus attacks your tonsils. It is accompanied by sore throat, neck pains, and fever.
  • Peritonsillar abscess. Occurs when a pus-pilled fissure appears beside a tonsil. It grows in size, forcing the tonsil to move further.
  • Acute mononucleosis. Occurs when the Epstein-Barr virus infects your tonsil. Accompanied by pronounced swelling of the tonsils, sore throat, fever, rash, and tiredness.
  • Hypertrophic tonsils. Tonsils grow larger, constricting the airway. Sufferers are known to snore loudly.
  • Tonsil stones. Also known as tonsilloliths, this condition occurs when the tonsils trap debris, which then solidify together.

Treating tonsil conditions

Treating tonsil conditions caused by bacteria usually require antibiotics. If you suffer from tonsillitis more than twice in a year, then you may undergo a tonsillectomy, wherein you have your tonsils surgically removed. Doctors say tonsil removal would not affect your body’s ability to fight infection, let alone your healthy lifestyle.

In the case of peritonsillar abscess, the doctor tries to drain the pus out by pricking the abscess with a special needle.

Doctors have a number of ways to check for a tonsil infection. Often, they take a pharynx swab, as simple as rubbing a cotton swab on the throat. They do this to check for viruses and bacteria. To diagnose mononucleosis, doctors usually order a monospot or blood test.

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