Tonsillectomy and increased risk of COVID-19?

Posted by charlottej @charlottej, Apr 5, 2020

Hi all! This is my first post and I’m posting because I’m rather anxious. I get health anxiety and obviously this is not a great time for me (!) but I have read something this evening that has concerned me. I had a tonsillectomy at age 14 and I have read that this may be responsible for young people getting seriously ill and even dying from coronavirus. I just wondered if anyone knew how much truth there is in this claim- I know that there are reports that say tonsillectomies weaken the immune system! Thank you in advance!

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Hello @charlottej, Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I can understand being anxious as I'm one of the high risk folks with several autoimmune conditions and at the ripe old age of 76. I've also had my tonsils out when I was very young. I don't know about the claim but I think it's prudent for anyone to take every precaution being advised – social distancing, washing hands, etc.. You may also be interested in the following discussions:

Does autoimmune disease = immunocompromised?
Suggested Ways to Prevent Anxiety & Sources of Help If Needed
Sleeping Well During Anxious Times:

There is also a Mayo Clinic News Network page with a video by Dr. Gregory Poland that provides more good information.

COVID-19 questions answered by a Mayo Clinic expert

One of the best tips I have is limiting the amount of news I listen to and trying to get a good nights sleep. Do you listen to the news a lot during the day?


@charlottej Hello and welcome to Connect. I hope finding information here can help set your mind at ease.
The first thing to understand is that there is more experts don't know about this illness than they know for sure.
How many years ago did you have your tonsils removed? Have you any other illnesses or risk factors that weaken your immune system? Are you able to practice isolation to lessen your risk of catching Covid-19?
As John suggested, it is best for our peace of mind to not listen/view/read endlessly about Covid-19. Pick one or two science/fact based sources like Mayo Connect, and stay away from sensational newcasts, social media, etc where anyone can post anything whether factual, speculative or outright false.
The best way to protect yourself is social distancing, thorough handwashing, keeping your surroundings clean, eating healthy foods, getting exercise and rest.
Stay calm, stay safe.


@charlottej – Hi! First I agree with above advice to stick with known reliable sources for information. Mayo obviously, NIH also. As far as I know not having tonsils does not place you at greater risk. Your immune system is not affected. The tonsils are similar to lymph glands – the cleanup crew! What I have read recently is that it is important to keep your mouth and throat moist by drinking water. Also, by drinking water, germs are washed down into the stomach where they don’t survive the acid.

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