Tonsil stones, otherwise known as tonsilloliths, are hard white or yellow formations located on your tonsils. While they are almost always harmless, they can create some unpleasant symptoms.
Let’s go over a few important facts about tonsil stones, including signs you might have them as well as potential treatments and home remedies.
Why Do Tonsil Stones Form?
Tonsils are a part of the immune system that act like guards in the back of your throat. They work to prevent bacteria and viruses from entering the body through the mouth. Some people have tonsils with deep pits and craters where bacteria, food particles, mucus and other debris can build up, leading to tonsil stones.
Tonsil Stone Symptoms
Not everyone with tonsil stones experiences symptoms, especially if they are small. However, symptoms of larger stones may include:
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swollen tonsils or white or yellow debris visible on the tonsils
- Chronic cough
- Ear pain
Are Tonsil Stones Dangerous?
If you have tonsil stones, don’t panic. They are generally not harmful, nor are they a sign of serious illness. In some people, the inflammation that can come with tonsil stones may increase their risk of tonsilitis. In very rare cases, if the stones grow quite large, they may have the potential to cause breathing or swallowing problems.
Similarly, research has shown that having tonsil stones does not make it more likely that you develop stones in other parts of the body like your kidneys or gallbladder.
Treatment Options and Home Remedies
Some people rid themselves of tonsil stones without meaning to after a particularly powerful cough. However, other purposeful methods of removal exist, including:
- Gargling with salt water
- Antibiotics that can be prescribed by a doctor and filled at Ft. Mitchell Drug Shoppe or another local pharmacy
- Laser resurfacing to smooth out the crevices in your tonsils
- Tonsillectomy, which is the surgical removal of your tonsils. This is only done for severe or chronic cases that don’t respond to other treatments.
When To See a Doctor
Though tonsil stones aren’t serious, it’s always a good idea to schedule an appointment with your medical provider if you have symptoms. They can help you determine your best treatment options, as well as rule out any other more serious condition that may have similar symptoms, such as strep throat, tonsilitis or gum disease.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call ENT & Allergy Specialists today.