eli5: What do tonsils and adenoids do that they can be removed without many side affects after a few months

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If someone gets a kidney removed there can cause other problems. When someone gets their tonsils removed the only side effect is slight pain for a few weeks. What do tonsils and adenoids do that there are not many side effects.

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They are a first-line immune system organ. Things come in the mouth and the immune system gets a look at them in the tonsils. It helps with being ready for infection and disease, but is not essential. It’s a nice thing to have, but not essential. Sort of like a sense of smell or taste are nice to have but not essential.

Meanwhile, if you lose both kidneys, you have no way to process waste in the blood, and die.

They help prevent infection of the upper respiratory tract, think of them like the hairs and mucus in your nostrils, for trapping germs in a sense.

Infact, having your tonsils or adenoids removed increases your risk of upper respiratory tract infection by 2 or 3 times. Having only your adenoids removed doubles your risk of copd and conjuctivitis. There are other effects but you can see that they do serve a very useful purpose, modern medicine has just made the long term side effects much easier to deal so we don’t considered them so serious.

They are useful, but the bad effects of losing them are not obviously connected, so you probably don’t make the link. You just get more infections maybe.