Tonsil Stones: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment Options
What are tonsils?
The tonsils are a pair of small, oval-shaped bits of tissue lymph nodes in the back of the mouth and top of the throat. They help to filter out bacteria and other germs to prevent infection in the body. They have folds, gaps and crevices called tonsillar crypts. Removing the tonsils does not affect your immune system.
A bacterial or viral infection can cause tonsillitis. Strep throat is a common cause. The infection may also be seen in other parts of the throat. One such infection is called pharyngitis.
What are tonsil stones?
Tonsil stones are small lumps of hard material that form in the tonsils. Tonsil stones can cause bad breath though they’re usually not dangerous, painful or harmful. They’re also called tonsilliths. Tonsillitis means inflammation (swelling) of the tonsils. Tonsillitis is very common in children.
How do Tonsil stones look?
Slightly white or yellow similar to pebbles on your tonsils. You may have one tonsil stone or many tonsil stones. They’re usually small in size, but sometimes they can get large tonsil stones.
Difference between tonsil stones and tonsillitis?
Tonsillitis is a tonsil infection. Both conditions can cause bad breath and throat pain. Usually, if you have tonsillitis, you’ll also get red, inflamed tonsils along with a sore throat, fever and headache.
Tonsil stones can be treated at home also. In a few cases, you may need surgery to remove the tonsils. Nowadays there are many best treatments you can have at an affordable price. The process has become easy and available and quick also.
Who’s at risk of tonsil stones?
People who have more tonsillar crypts tend to get more tonsil stones. These are also more commonly found in people who have had a lot of tonsil infections in their life. Tonsilliths tend to happen more often in teens.
From 20 to 40 it’s mostly expected to develop tonsil stones, it’s not necessary also to have tonsils. Women ratio is higher than men for tonsil causes. High chances of having tonsil can be due to if they have dry mouth, overactive salivary glands, postnasal drip, recurrent tonsillitis or infections.
Are tonsil stones common?
Tonsil stones are very common. They are mostly found in children. They don’t cause any serious health issues. Many people have tonsil stones and they don't even get to know if they have tonsils or not. Tonsil stones can be treated at home also.
What Are The Symptoms And Causes Of Tonsil Stones?
What causes tonsil stones?
Materials and debris can get blocked in the tonsillar crypts. The material can harden or calcify, forming stones. Stuck material could be:
- Minerals such as food particles
- Food or debris
- Bacteria or fungi
Common symptoms of tonsil stones?
Some tonsil stones don’t cause any symptoms and some depend on how large they are. Sometimes there might be no symptoms at all. The most commonly experienced symptom is bad breath, also known as halitosis. Research and studies found that people with tonsil stones were 10 times more likely to have bad breath than the normal breathing person.
Tonsil stone symptoms, they may include:
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Bad taste in your mouth
- Difficulty in swallowing any intake
- Sore throat, which lasts longer than 48 hours and may be severe
- Fever and chills
- Small white or yellow stones that you may spit up
- Upper airway obstruction
- Feeling that something’s stuck in your throat
- Small white patches on your tonsils
- Throat infections that are hard to treat with antibiotics
- If tonsils are very large, breathing problems can be faced
- Tenderness of the jaw and throat
Diagnosis And Tests Of Tonsil Stones
How are tonsil stones diagnosed?
To diagnose tonsil stones, doctor may follow some basic process:
- Do a physical examination, checking inside your mouth and throat.
- Scan your mouth and throat region to get clarity of tonsil
- By using a dental pick the stones can be dislodge.
Sometimes, a healthcare checker happens to observe tonsil stones during your physical examination. If you don’t have any symptoms, your health checker might observe a stone during a scan or X-ray done during physical examination. Or sometimes your dentist may see them during a dental check up incase if you visit for a dental check.
MANAGEMENT AND TREATMENT OF TONSIL STONES
How to Prevent Tonsil Stones?
“Tonsil stones aren’t harmful, but they can cause discomfort and irritation, if they are large.”
- Make a habit of regularly brushing and flossing your teeth after every meal, or at least twice per day. Make sure to brush your tongue, as well.
- Quit smoking.
- Gargle with saltwater or an oral rinse after eating or at least once a day.
- Use a water flosser to clean your mouth and help dislodge any tonsil stones.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Drink fluids, and mostly warm (not hot), bland fluids.
- Drink cold liquids or suck on fruit-flavored frozen bars.
How are tonsil stones treated?
Some of the basic home remedies for tonsil treatments which can be tried as per your health condition and to be followed:
- Brush teeth regularly.
- Gargle with warm salt water.
- Gargling / Salt Water or mouthwash: Gargling these can help dismiss your tonsil stones. Strong gargling using salt water can help your throat feel better, and also it could terminate the tonsil stones. Salt water can even give you relief from bad breathing or smell. Very helpful and effective if it’s done mostly after finishing your meals to prevent food and debris from getting caught in the tonsil crypts.
- Manual removal: Do a proper cleaning using a toothbrush, Q-tip, or something similar.
- Coughing: Due to strong cough issues can loosen stones and bring them up.
- Using an object: If gurgling and coughing don’t terminate the stones, then it’s good to use your finger or a toothbrush to get rid of tonsil stones. Do it softly to avoid pain or get infected instead or else use an object, try with a cotton swab.
Medical Treatments / Surgeries Of Tonsil Stones
- If you are facing tonsil stone symptoms, talk to your doctor. They may suggest you to an ENT check up (an ear, nose and throat specialist). The ENT can check and discuss your surgical options depending on noticing your tonsils. This test may be normal, and you can still have strep. Your doctor may send the throat swab to a laboratory for a strep culture. Test results can take a few days.
- Doctor will check the mouth and throat. The tonsils may appear to be red and may have white spots on them. Swollen jaw and neck with lymph nodes and may have softness during the touch.
- Antibiotics: Some doctors may prescribe some antibiotics as per depending upon the type of tonsil to terminate tonsil stones or If tests show you do have strep, your doctor may suggest they will give you antibiotics. But you may need antibiotics if you develop a bacterial infection. Swollen tonsils that are not painful or do not cause other problems do not need to be treated. It is good to finish the course of antibiotics as directed, even if you are feeling better. These antibiotics will help to finish the infection by the roots or if you skip or take medications irregularly then high chances of infection can return.
- Surgical removal: Doctors might recommend surgical tonsil stone removal, if tonsil stones are: Large, Causing pain or other problems, Causing recurrent tonsil infections or sore throats. In more severe cases, a doctor may need to surgically remove the tonsil stone. This is a simple procedure done by numbing just the area around the tonsils.
- Tonsillectomy: If tonsil stones become a constant problem, causing repeated tonsillitis, your doctor might recommend the removal of your tonsils. Tonsillectomy generally is done as an outpatient procedure. During this process you might have to get admitted to the hospital. It also can result in a severe sore throat. During Tonsillectomy, only a doctor can understand and jump to a conclusion, if you have an infection or need a tonsillectomy for tonsil stone removal or other treatment for chronic tonsil stones are needed.
- Laser Tonsil Cryptolysis (LTC): Another substitute to tonsillectomy, LTC uses a CO2 or diode laser to scar the tonsil crypts. This helps in reduction of formation of tonsil stones. Less pain and bleeding compared to a tonsillectomy treatment.
- Coblation tonsil cryptolysis: A version of cryptolysis that uses a wand instead of a laser. This method potentially shows similar results to LTC while minimizing risks like airway fires, burns, and retinal damage.
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A note from MedRec Hospital
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Tonsil treatments and surgeries are available at MedRec Hospital, Jehanabad Bihar. Specialized Experts available for your tonsil treatments. The hospital gives you treatment within a reasonable budget, with all X-ray, Scanning, pharmacy etc. and many more facilities. Reach out to us. In case, if anyone feels these kinds of symptoms or causes. Don’t wait for anything, you can immediately contact Medrec Hospital. Medrec has free counseling sessions, they are available 24 x 7 with all facilities near by you all, with excellent infrastructure, emergency ambulance facility, taken care by multiple doctors and staff members. Good hospitality is provided even for patient’s families. The good news is that we are even available on virtual mode to keep you motivated, for counseling by understanding what kind of problem you are going through. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment, call or use an online facility. If you find any of your friends, colleagues or relatives going through any kind of health problems, suggest they consult Medrec Hospitals.
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