Have you been feeling obstructions at the top of your throat or encountering difficulty while swallowing or when consuming food? Or are you suffering from the problem of bad breath for quite some time now? If any of your answers to the above questions is yes, then it may be possible that there may be tonsil stones present at the back of the throat.
What are tonsil stones you ask? How can you diagnose that you are suffering from that ailment? Can it be cured with the help of simple home remedies or does it have to be ameliorated with the help of treatments? If you are also boggled with all these questions, continue reading the article as we delve further into this condition.
What are tonsil stones?
There are three types of tonsils found in the body:
- Pharyngeal– at the back of the throat
- Lingual- found at the base of the tongue
- Palatine- on the sides of the throat
Tonsil stones or as medically known as tonsilloliths are a condition in which calcified hard yellow or white masses get formed at the back of your throat i.e., the palatine tonsils. The size of the granules usually varies from one person to another and most of the time it has been noticed that people do not notice them in the first place. However, with that being said, tonsil stones if not diagnosed at the initial stages, can develop into complications in the future.
Causes for tonsil stones
The tonsils consist of crevices, tunnels, and pits which are known as tonsil crypts. And one of the major factors for tonsil stones is the buildup of food particles and debris of dead cells, bacteria, and mucus at these tonsil crypts. As time passes, this debris hardens and gets converted into tonsil stones.
The other potential causes of tonsils stones are:
- Chronic tonsillitis (a medical condition in which the tonsil gets inflamed)
- Large tonsils
- Chronic sinus issues
- Improper oral hygiene
- As a side effect of certain medications
Symptoms of tonsil stones
As already stated, tonsil stones at the initial stages cannot be diagnosed easily. However, certain symptoms can help us to identify tonsil stones.
The potential symptoms of tonsil stones are:
- Swelling of the tonsils glands
- Pain while swallowing, eating, and drinking
- White or yellow flecks at the back of the throat
- Uneasiness and having a feeling of obstruction at the back of the throat
- As the infection grows over time, foul smell and bad breath increase as time passe.
- It is common to notice small tonsil stones at the back of your throat but certain instances have shown that the tonsil stones can increase in size over time. If the tonsil stones become big enough to block the airway, then the difficulty in breathing can also be noticed.
- Persistent sore throat and occasional coughing
- In some extreme cases, it can also lead to ear pain
Sometimes, tonsil stones can lead to a condition known as tonsil abscess which is a deep infection of tonsils where the tonsil stones become large and it disrupts the other healthy tonsil tissues. In this condition, along with inflammation and swelling, it can also be observed that pus coming out of the affected tonsil tissues.
How to get rid of tonsil stones
Tonsil stones usually dissolve on their own if they are small. However, we have to admit the condition is irksome to deal with. Therefore, if the condition of tonsil stones persists for a long time, then some certain medications and treatments can help you to ameliorate the condition.
- Use a low-pressure water irrigator such as a water flosser and aim it directly at the tonsil stones. This will help you to free the tonsil stones.
- Swish a small amount of non-alcoholic mouthwash around the mouth to loosen tonsil stones and to prevent the formation of bacteria buildup in the mouth.
- Add a half spoon of salt to a cup of warm water and gargle the liquid for 10-15 seconds to loosen the stones and also helps you to ameliorate the condition of scratchy and sore throat
- Gargle with diluted apple cider vinegar to break the material present in the tonsil stones. Add a tablespoon of diluted apple cider vinegar to warm water and gargle with it.
Over-the-counter antibiotics and antihistamines can be a great help too. They will help you to reduce the bacterial and mucus growth in the tonsil crypts.
Many websites tout manual removal of stones or with cotton swabs are effective in tonsil stones removal. However, it is not recommended by us as it is an extremely risky process and can further aggravate the condition.
At-home remedies provide you a treatment that has little or no side effects at all and is extremely affordable. However, there have been instances where these home remedies have not been able to produce the desired result for the affected person. Therefore who has been suffering from tonsillitis for a long time or for those who have unusually large tonsil stones, then removing the tonsil stones with the help of surgeries are the best options available. ]
- Tonsillectomy- In this procedure, complete removal of the tonsils takes place.
- Laser tonsil cryptanalysis- In this surgery, the surgeon uses a laser to remove the affected tonsil crypts by resurfacing the areas but it does not involve removing the entire tonsils.
- Coblation tonsil cryptanalysis- In this treatment, surgeons use radiofrequency energy and saltwater to remove the infected crypts and crevices from the tonsils.
These surgeries are usually the last resort, especially Tonsillectomy. The surgeries can be painful and can produce certain unwanted effects on the body. Make sure that the surgeries are performed under the supervision of a skilled surgeon and abide by all the guidelines provided by them for recovering.
We all know that prevention is better than cure. Maintaining good oral hygiene can keep tonsil stones at a bay.
- Brush or floss your teeth at least twice a day to prevent the buildup of food particles in the crevices.
- Gargle after eating so that it can reduce the risk of the debris getting stuck in the tonsil crypts.
- Tweaking certain lifestyle practices can also help you to combat tonsil stones.
Hope this article was able to provide an insight into tonsil stones. It is always advisable to consult a doctor as soon as you suspect having tonsil stones. Diagnosing it in the initial stages and with the help of proper medications and treatment, tonsil stones can be easily ameliorated and eliminated.