As Helz said, the medical theory now is that tonsils DO serve a purpose and for that reason they are reluctant to have them removed unless absolutely necessary. One theory is that they are linked to the immune system, and they also act as the first port of call for any bacteria that enters via the mouth/ airways.
However, they can become problematic all of a sudden and lead to recurring bouts of tonsilitis. Only after a number of frequent bouts will your doctor consider referring you to a throat specialist.
Also worth bearing in mind that not everyone gets the same symptoms from tonsilitis. I used to get it about twice a year when I was kid which wasn't sufficient to have them removed. Then I had it 12 times in 18 months between 1999 and 2001 :bang: and it wasn't very nice at all. I didn't suffer so much from sore throats, instead I felt like I had a bout of flu with a swollen neck and glands. This is because there are a large amount of blood vessels in the tonsils, and when they get infected you end up with bacteria or viruses getting straight into the blood stream. The effect is similar to blood poisoning, and in a couple of bad cases I became almost delirious and felt really ill for a week. Not nice at all.
After taking weeks/ months off work because of tonsilitis, plus getting fed up with shoving anti-biotics down my throat all the time (long term use of these isn't a good thing either) I went back to my doctor. She'd seen that I'd had it on average about once every six weeks, so I finally got referred to an ENT hospital. The hospital tried to put me off having them out, but after I pointed out that I'd had so many bouts and it was affecting my job/ life they agreed to go ahead.
So at the grand old age of 33 I finally had them removed. The op wasn't too bad (they use a cauteriser now rather than a scalpel to remove them), except they won't let you out of hospital unless you are eating properly. And that means toast! Jelly and ice cream are a thing of the past (except for kiddies maybe), as now they find that coarse foods help keep the operation site clean and stops scar tissue building up. But don't worry, you are dosed up on very strong painkillers so it doesn't hurt at all.
I got sent home with a load of water soluable painkillers, but after the anaesthetic wore off my throat started to hurt. I was told that the pain would get worse before it got better, and that it would take about five days before it subsided so I put up with it.
However, it got worse and worse, until on the 5th day I was in agony. Think red hot pokers going through your neck and swallowing water feeling like swallowing razor blades :bang:
I went to the doctor the next day, and she saw that I'd picked up a secondary infection. This is a common complaint for adult tonsilectomies. Got put on some anti-biotics, but it still hurt like hell and the following day I couldn't talk let alone swallow anything other than water.
The day after that I coughed and felt something warm in my throat. Went to the sink to spit it out and spewed out blood all over the place. Turned out that I'd haemorraged... Got rushed back to hospital where I was put on an anti-biotic IV for 48 hours, which finally did the trick. On the third day I was allowed back home again, and at last the pain was gone.
After that, it took about six weeks to learn to swallow properly again as tonsilectomies mess up the functions of the muscles in your throat. You have to retrain them!
After all that, I was finally free of my tonsils. And I was SO glad that I'd had them removed. No more bouts of tonsilitis, and I got far less throat problems/ infections than I used to. Even though I had secondary complications, I still don't regret having them removed, not one little bit. I'm just glad to be rid of the damn things as they gave me grief for years.
Not trying to put you off Sammi, just relating my experience!
So Sammi, if you've had it more than five times in one year, I'd push your doctor for a referral. When it starts affecting your job and life it really needs to be dealt with.
However, if you only get it a couple of times a year that probably won't be enough to have them removed (unless you go private).
Oh, one last thing. There is a waiting list (of course), and when I was put on it I had to wait a year before I had the op. Not sure what it's like up where you are, but this was down in London.
Hope you're feeling better, and you have my sympathies as tonsilitis is not very nice at all.
Best of luck!