:"For the structure in the cerebellum, see cerebellar tonsil." The tonsils are areas of lymphoid tissue on either side of the throat. An infection of the tonsils is called tonsillitis. Most commonly, the term "tonsils" refers to the palatine tonsils that can be seen in the back of the throat.

Like other organs of the lymphatic system, the tonsils act as part of the immune system to help protect against infection. In particular, they are believed to be involved in helping fight off pharyngeal and upper respiratory tract infections.


Tonsils in humans include, from superior to inferior:

Together this set of lymphatic tissue is known as Waldeyer's tonsillar ring.


Tonsils tend to reach their largest size near puberty, and they gradually undergo atrophy thereafter. However, they are largest relative to the diameter of the throat in young children, and tonsillectomy (surgical removal of tonsils) may be indicated if they are obstructing the airway or interfering with swallowing. Also, when tonsils become overly enlarged or inflamed they may need to be surgically removed. In older patients, asymmetric tonsils (also known as asymmetric tonsil hypertrophy) may be an indicator of virally infected tonsils, or tumors such as lymphoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Some doctors who are not ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists are conservative on recommending the removal of tonsilsFact|please give a reliable source for this assertion, and the following assertion about typical recommendations of ENT specialists|date=August 2008, because the tissue cannot be put back, and removal decreases the power of the immune system. ENT specialists generally recommend removal if there are frequent recurrent tonsillitis, adenotonsillar hyperplasia causing symptomatic partial upper airway obstruction or asymmetryFact|date=August 2008.

ee also

* Tubal tonsil
* Tonsilloliths
* Tonsillitis
* Tonsillectomy

External links

* [ Image of all tonsils at]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tonsil — Ton sil, n. [L. tonsill?, pl.: cf. F. tonsille. ] (Anat.) One of the two glandular organs situated in the throat at the sides of the fauces. The tonsils are sometimes called the {almonds}, from their shape. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tonsil — v. tonsilă. Trimis de LauraGellner, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DN …   Dicționar Român

  • tonsil — (n.) c.1600, from L. tonsillae (plural) tonsils, dim. of toles goiter, which is perhaps of Gaulish origin …   Etymology dictionary

  • tonsil — The derivative forms are tonsillectomy, tonsillitis, and tonsillotomy, all with two ls …   Modern English usage

  • tonsil — ► NOUN ▪ either of two small masses of tissue in the throat, one on each side of the root of the tongue. ORIGIN from Latin tonsillae (plural) …   English terms dictionary

  • tonsil — [tän′səl] n. [L tonsillae, pl., dim. of tōlēs (< * tonsles), goiter] either of a pair of oval masses of lymphoid tissue, one on each side of the throat at the back of the mouth tonsillar adj …   English World dictionary

  • tonsil — tonsillar, tonsilar, tonsillary /ton seuh ler ee/, adj. /ton seuhl/, n. Anat. a prominent oval mass of lymphoid tissue on each side of the throat. [1595 1605; < L tonsillae (pl.) the tonsils] * * * Small mass of lymphoid tissue in the wall of the …   Universalium

  • tonsil — 1. Intraepithelial collection of lymphocytes forming a lymphoepithelial ring in the pharynx. 2. SYN: palatine t.. [L. tonsilla, a stake, in pl. the tonsils] cerebellar t. SYN: t. of cerebellum. t. of cerebellum [TA] a rounded lobule on the… …   Medical dictionary

  • tonsil — UK [ˈtɒns(ə)l] / US [ˈtɑns(ə)l] noun [countable] Word forms tonsil : singular tonsil plural tonsils one of the two small pieces of flesh on each side of your throat at the back of your mouth …   English dictionary

  • tonsil — noun /ˈtɒn.səl,ˈtɑn.səl/ a) Either of a pair of small masses of lymphoid tissue that lie on each side of the throat and that help protect the body against infection; palatine tonsil. b) Any of various small masses of lymphoid tissues, including… …   Wiktionary

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