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What Are Tonsil Stones?

Kidneys are not the only place where stones can form inside the human body. Tonsils are another location where hard and sometimes, painful stones may develop in certain people. Tonsils are gland-like structures in the back of your throat. They are located in a pocket on each side of the throat. Tonsils are made of special type of tissues that contains lymphocytes. These are the cells in your body that prevent and fight with infections. Tonsils play a major role in the human immune system and act like nets preventing the incoming bacteria and virus particles that are passing through your throat.

What Are Tonsil Stones?

But medical experts do not agree with this statement. They say that Tonsils are more of a hindrance than a help. It may be noted that tonsils are developed in an environment where humans were not exposed to as many germs as we come across today as a result of living in areas with relatively high populations. Medical proofs suggest that people who have no Tonsils suffer less from bacterial or viral infections than people with Tonsils.

Tonsils are filled with nooks where bacteria, dead cells and mucous can become trapped. The debris becomes concentrated in white formations that occur in the pockets. When this trapped debris gets hardens, Tonsil Stones are formed. This happens in most people who have chronic inflammation in their tonsils.

Tonsil Stones

It is quite rare to have a large stone, while many people have small stones which develop in their Tonsils.

Symptoms of Tonsil Stones?

In general, Tonsil Stones which are small in size do not create any noticeable symptoms. Even when they are large, many tonsil stones are only discovered on X-rays or CT scans. Some other large Tonsil stones may however have multiple symptoms

Bad Breath: One of the initial detection of a tonsil stone is that one having a bad breath along with a tonsil infection. A Special test would look for any volatile sulfur compounds in the subject’s breath. Presence of these foul-smelling compounds provides evidence of a bad breath. Many researchers have found that 75% of the people who had these compounds abnormally in high concentrations also contains the Tonsil Stones. In cases where the causes of bad breath are not known, researchers suggest to look for the presence of Tonsil stones.

Sore Throat: If there is any pain in your throat, it can always be a difficult task to determine whether the pain in your throat is caused by your infection or the Tonsil stone. The presence of a Tonsil stone itself may cause you to feel pain.

White Debris: Sometimes, the Tonsil Stones are visible in the back of the throat as a white solid material. This is not always the case. Many a times, they are hidden inside the folds of the Tonsils. In these situations, they may only be detectable with the help of advanced scanning techniques, such as CT scans or magnetic resonance imaging.

Difficulty in Swallowing Food: Swallowing foods or liquids may be very difficult depending on the location or size of the Tonsil stone.

Ear Pain: Tonsil Stones can develop anywhere in the tonsil. Because of shared nerve pathways, they may cause a person to feel pain in the ear, even though the stone itself is not touching the ear.

Tonsil Swelling: When collected debris hardens and a tonsil stone forms, inflammation from infection (if present) and the tonsil stone itself may cause a tonsil to swell or become larger.

What are Tonsil Stones?

How Tonsil Stones Are Treated?

The treatment for a Tonsil stone depends on the size of the stone and its ability to cause discomfort or harm. Below are the treatment options:

Many Tonsil Stones, especially ones that have no symptoms, require no special treatment.

At-home Removal: Some people choose to dislodge Tonsil Stones at home with the use of picks or swabs.

Salt Water Gargles: Gargling with warm, salty water may help ease the discomfort of tonsillitis, which often accompanies Tonsil Stones.

Antibiotics: Various antibiotics can be used to treat Tonsil Stones. While they may be helpful for some people, they cannot correct the basic problem that is causing tonsilloliths. Also, antibiotics can have side effects.

Surgical Removal: When Tonsil Stones are exceedingly large and symptomatic, it may be necessary for a surgeon to remove them. In certain instances, a doctor will be able to perform this relatively simple procedure using a local numbing agent. Then the patient will not need general anesthesia.

Can Tonsil Stones Be Prevented?

These Tonsil Stones are very much common in people who have chronic tonsillitis and the only way is to prevent them is with a surgical removal of the tonsils. This treatment is called Tonsillectomy. It removes the tissues of the tonsils entirely, thereby eliminating the possibility of tonsillolith formation.

Patients who go through the surgery have difficulty in swallowing things and have a sore throat for at least a few days after the procedure.

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What Are Tonsil Stones?
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by Dr Diane Puttman

Dr Diane Puttman is a Writer of Over the past 16 years, Diane has covered everything about Tonsil Stones, while writing health, science and tech articles for major publications.

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