Get to know your body: Tonsils catch viruses and bacteria
Almonds are the body's ultimate defense against viruses and bacteria. Despite this, lymphatic tissue has been removed for more than 3,000 years.
If you open your mouth and at the same time look in a mirror, you may see the two nut-shaped lumps of lymphatic tissue at the back of the oral cavity – your tonsils.
Many people get the tonsils removed because they are inflamed and swollen. But the tonsils are actually part of our immune system and help to catch viruses and bacteria before they sneak into the body through the mouth and make us sick.
Almonds protect us, among other things, by producing white blood cells that help the body fight disease.
Here’s how the almonds and soft palate work:
- The almonds
Where: At the back of the mouth on both sides of the pharynx
What: Lymphatic tissue that is part of the immune system and inhibits ingested or inhaled bacteria. The tissue also produces so-called T cells.
- Soft palate
Where: At the back of the mouth just above the tongue.
What: Soft tissue that controls our pronunciation – and ensures that food and fluid don’t get in the nose.
The procedure has been carried out for over 3,000 years
Almonds vary in size from person to person but are, relatively speaking, the largest in three-year-old children. It is also usually children who get their tonsils removed if they are often inflamed or hurt.
Almond removal was first described more than 3,000 years ago, and today they are usually burned, or they are cut off when the patient is anesthetized.
Doctors and researchers have long disagreed about whether people without tonsils have a weakened immune system. Research indicates that children who have had their tonsils removed run a higher risk of diseases such as influenza or asthma.