Most people have two tonsils, one on each side of the back of the throat. The tonsils are made up of soft tissue and lymphocytes (white blood cells). Lymphocytes are part of the body's immune system and help fight off infection.
The tonsils are located at the entrance to the respiratory tract, which is why they're often the first part of the body to be infected by a virus or bacteria.
The tonsils are most commonly infected with viruses, such as the common cold virus or the flu virus. Bacterial infections, such as strep throat, can also cause tonsillitis. Tonsillitis can also be caused by allergies or irritants, such as smoke or dust.
When you have a sore throat, it's usually because your tonsils are swollen and inflamed. Tonsillitis is a common condition that can be caused by viral or bacterial infections.
In most cases, it's not serious and will go away on its own. However, in some cases, tonsillitis can lead to complications, such as dehydration or pneumonia.
Tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils. It's usually only recommended if you have persistent or recurrent tonsillitis that doesn't respond to other treatments.