Can You Be Born Without Tonsils?

Although unlikely, it isn’t impossible to be born without tonsils. Tonsils can also be surgically removed in chronic health complications such as tonsillitis and cancer involving the tonsils. While removing your tonsils could threaten your immunity upkeep, it has various advantages like a minimum risk of infections. To recover from a tonsil removal surgery, you should be mindful of staying away from crunchy, spicy foods and resort to soft foods like mashed potatoes. Tonsil surgeries in the modern day are primarily recommended in instances where you’re facing chronic health conditions.

Our tonsils are an innate part of our immunity system.

This is due to its specific location at the throat, which can prevent germs entering the nose and mouth from going any further.

Tonsils are also known to contain a large number of white blood cells that play an active role in destroying germs. But this doesn’t exactly mean that we can’t survive without tonsils.

Some people either aren’t born with tonsils or have had to surgically remove them due to medical conditions.

Can you be born without tonsils? Can tonsils be surgically removed, and why? What are the pros and cons of removing your tonsils? How can you recover after a tonsil removal surgery? Is it worth removing your tonsil in this day and age?

Can you be born without tonsils?

Most human beings are born with a pair of tonsils that are found at the back end of their throat.

While babies’ tonsils aren’t so visible, they do start to grow until about the age of five and eventually become relatively smaller once the baby grows into a child.

Sometimes, just as some people are born without limbs, it’s not impossible to be born without tonsils due to genetic mutation.

This isn’t something to be worried about since tonsils aren’t an essential part of the human body, and you can easily live without them.

In certain instances, the lack of tonsils may even act to your advantage since it decreases the possibility of bacterial growth in your throat.

Can tonsils be surgically removed and why?

A throat doctor is checking her patients tonsils to see if they need to be surgically removed

The process of surgically removing the tonsils of an adult is known as a tonsillectomy.

Several health conditions require the removal of tonsils to either effectively treat the disease or eliminate the additional burden that tonsils impose.

1. Chronic throat infection

This is the most popular reason for a tonsillectomy.

When you have long-term sore throats exceeding 2 to 3 years and if your tonsils constantly get infected and swell up for a few months, your day-to-day life could be irritating and painful in the least.

For this reason, doctors recommend tonsillectomies to be rid of the problem once and for all.

2. Bad breath

This doesn’t mean that you should remove your tonsils simply because you had bad breath this one time.

If the stench doesn’t go away no matter how much you wash your mouth and brush your teeth, chances are that either pus or debris has built up along your tonsil area.

A tonsillectomy would be the best and permanent solution for that problem.

3. Cancer

If you have cancer and it spreads along your neck area, especially if you have tonsil cancer, doctors will ask you to get a tonsillectomy.

But it’s important to know that even if you’ve done this procedure, you can still develop cancer along with the tissue that’s left behind.

4. Obstructive sleep apnea

When your airways are blocked due to swollen tonsils, making it difficult to breathe, in certain instances, tonsillectomy would be recommended.

5. Tonsillitis

This inflammation of your tonsils can be quite painful and make swallowing difficult.

Pros and cons of removing tonsils

When doctors recommend you to have the tonsillectomy carried out, it’s eventually up to you to make the final decision.

In such instances, it’s best to fully understand the risks and benefits of removing tonsils, as clearly shown in the table below.

Pros of tonsil removalCons of tonsil removal
Minimum risk of infections – When various infections spread right to your tonsils, complications can occur. But if the tonsils are removed entirely, the infection is cut off from spreading.Negative impact on immunity – Especially when it comes to children, various research and a 2020 study have revealed a reduction in antibody production in kids who have undergone tonsil removal.  
Colds and flu will cure faster – Since the presence of tonsils can aggravate an infection into being chronic, your infections will heal faster without it.Future health risks – It has also been revealed, according to a 2018 study, that a child who has undergone tonsillectomy is likelier to develop health conditions like conjunctivitis and upper respiratory tract diseases as they grow older.
A peaceful sleep – Sometimes, tonsils can swell to the extent that they obstruct the oxygen flow in your upper airways, affecting the quality of your sleep. Without tonsils, this problem no longer exists.Short-term complexities – After getting tonsil removal surgery, it’s also possible to experience discomforts like mild fever, sore throat, and difficulty in swallowing, which will go down after a few weeks.
A lesser need for medication – Although antibiotics are quite helpful during infections, the constant use of antibiotics is overall not healthy for your kidneys. Therefore, getting rid of your tonsils would be a wise choice in the long run.Tonsillectomy complications – Tonsil removal surgery does have the potential to go downhill post-surgery. Surgeons can sometimes ignore underlying conditions, so getting your tonsillectomy done at a reputed hospital is best.


How can you recover after a tonsillectomy?

After your tonsil removal, it’s normal to experience a certain extent of pain and discomfort in your throat, jaw area, ears, and neck.

It’s essential to take some time off your busy schedule to recover.

  1. Rest – It’s important to rest at home for about 3 to 4 days soon after the surgery for your body to relax and recover faster.
  2. Soft foods – Eating soft foods and having warm drinks will help you stay full without irritating your throat after the surgery. The recommended list of foods according to the Cleveland clinic includes warm water, smoothies, yogurt, puddings, broth, mashed potatoes, and scrambled eggs. 
  3. Pain killers – If your jaw or any part of your upper body starts to ache, you can try out pain medication with the doctor’s approval.
  4. Chewing gum – Chewing gum is also recommended in order to help eat comfortably by minimizing spasms after surgery since your jaws will be softly engaging in an activity.

Overall, is it worth removing your tonsils nowadays?

A young woman with constant throat pain is considering removing her tonsils after a recommendation by her throat doctor

Although getting your tonsils removed was pretty popular in the 1960s and 1970s, we don’t really hear about tonsillectomies as much anymore.

So, it’s natural to wonder if this procedure has lost its importance.

To answer the big question of whether it is worth removing your tonsils requires first understanding the gravity of the medical condition you’re facing.

When it comes to severe chronic conditions like tonsilitis, a 2015 study shows that patients who had undergone tonsil removal experienced a complete improvement in their quality of life.

However, carrying out tonsillectomies simply to minimize the risk of infection is no longer popular due to skeptical views regarding the usefulness of such procedures since it isn’t 100% effective in achieving zero infection.

Tonsillectomies are mostly avoided, especially in instances where patients have underlying medical complications involving the heart and lungs.

Tonsil removal is also not recommended among elderly patients and those sensitive to anesthesia.

The main instances in which doctors may recommend tonsillectomies nowadays are chronic tonsillitis, tonsillar cancer, chronic halitosis, and peritonsillar abscess.

So, it’s basically up to you to decide if your situation is dire enough to resort to tonsil removal. 

Conclusion

Overall, surviving without or with tonsils has both its pros and cons.

You can even resort to other alternatives for tonsillectomy, such as ‘tonsillotomy,’ which involves an incision of only a portion of a tonsil.

While carrying out tonsillectomies is a somewhat controversial topic, it’s entirely up to you to make the final decision, and you don’t have to do it alone.

If you’re struggling with tonsil-related health issues, you can always consult with your doctor and look into the ideal solution for you.