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Uploaded:2018-03-13
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Has your doctor ever asked you to stick out your tongue and say "ah"? They're probably checking out your tonsils! But what are your tonsils, and what do they do?

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[ Intro ].

I just got back from my checkup at the doctor’s office, and I’m happy to report that my doctor says everything is a-okay! [Squeaks squeaks]. Aw, thanks, Squeaks!

I’m really glad, too. Remember when we talked to Dr. Carroll about what the doctor does when you go for a checkup? [Squeaks squeaks].

Well, my doctor did a lot of those things. Like when she asked me to open my mouth wide, stick out my tongue, and say “ah!” … … while she looked inside my mouth and throat with a light. Maybe your doctor has done the same thing at one of your checkups!

One of the reasons the doctor asks you to do that is to see how your tonsils look. Your tonsils are these little lumps that help your body defend itself against the germs that can make you sick. You have a few in different places, like at the back of your nose, that you can’t see very well from the outside.

But the biggest tonsils you have are in the back of your throat — one on each side. Those tonsils are what your doctor is looking for, and with a little help, you can probably see them for yourself! First, stand in front of a mirror.

Then, ask a friend or grownup to shine a flashlight into the back of your throat while you open your mouth wide, stick out your tongue, and say “ah!” If you look carefully, you might be able to see two little lumps deep in the back of your throat. You shouldn’t try to touch them, though, because you could end up hurting yourself. The back of your throat is no place for your fingers!

But it is the perfect place for your tonsils to do their job. Try this: take in a deep breath of air. Whether you took that breath in using your nose or your mouth, the air entered your body through your throat, which means it passed right by your tonsils.

And that’s a good thing! If you could see your tonsils up close, you’d notice that they’re bumpy and kind of sticky on the outside. These sticky bumps trap some of the germs that are mixed with the air you breathe.

So your tonsils keep some germs from getting deeper into your body, where they can make you sick. But that’s not all your tonsils do! After it traps the germs, your tonsils can also destroy them.

But sometimes trapping too many germs, or some especially harmful germs, causes problems for your tonsils! Your tonsils can swell up a little, become red, and make your throat feel pretty sore. That’s called tonsillitis.

If you have tonsillitis, your doctor will probably recommend that you drink lots of liquids and get plenty of rest. Your doctor might also suggest that you eat soft or cold foods, like smoothies or soups, until your throat starts to feel better. But if you get tonsillitis a lot, a doctor may suggest that you have your tonsils taken out.

That’s why some people don’t have their tonsils anymore! [Squeaks squeaks]. Oh, don’t worry — they’re just fine without their tonsils. Even though our tonsils help defend against germs, there are lots of other parts of our bodies that help too!

Plus, as we get older, our tonsils don’t do as much work because the rest of our bodies get stronger at fighting germs. In fact, if you’re a kid, your tonsils are probably bigger than an adult’s! By the time we reach about age nine, our tonsils start to shrink.

And as our tonsils get smaller, so do our chances of a sore throat from tonsillitis. But my doctor still checks on them to see how they’re doing! Thanks for joining us!

Do you have questions about health, or the human body, or anything at all? Ask a grownup to help you leave a comment below, or send us an email at kids@scishow.com. We’ll see you next time here at the Fort! [ Outro ].