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Are Kids With No Tonsils More Susceptible to Infections?

Our doctor has suggested that my son get a tonsillectomy. Will removing his tonsils make him more susceptible to other throat infections?
- Kate

The tonsils are two glands located on either side of the back part of the throat. Tonsils are also known as lymphoid tissue. Their main function is to help stop bacteria from getting farther down the throat. However, a tonsillectomy doesn't put kids at risk for more infections. In fact, some kids get fewer throat infections after tonsillectomies. When the tonsils are removed, other tissues in the body take over their role to help prevent infection.

Thanks to successful antibiotic treatments and a more conservative approach, tonsillectomies are less common than they used to be. However, they may still be recommended in cases of frequent bacterial infections or airway obstruction (such as obstructive sleep apnea), which may occur due to enlarged tonsils.

Reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD
Date reviewed: April 2012