The primary function of tonsils and adenoids is to help the immune system develop antibodies to prevent childhood diseases. Tonsils are located in the back of the throat, while adenoids are in the back of the nose.
“Tonsils are most functional between the ages of 18 months and 6 years,” says Adam S. Morgan, MD, otolaryngologist at Saint Francis Medical Center. “During that time, they are naturally enlarged because of the work they are doing. However, when they become so large they are obstructing the airway or causing frequent infections (tonsillitis and strep throat), they need to be removed.”
Tonsillitis and strep throat infections are considered frequent when a child experiences five to seven over a 12-month period. “While you most often hear about children having their tonsils and adenoids removed, adults can have severely enlarged tonsils, as well,” says Morgan.
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