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Tonsil stones are small lumps that collect in the hollows of the tonsils. They may be imperceptible and not disturbing, but they have a trait that will make us want to get rid of them at all costs: they smell bad. Unpleasant smell from the mouth can be a cause of great discomfort. Learn how to heal tonsil stones and what can be done to keep them from constantly renewing.

Tonsil stones(also known asdetryt ,retention plugs ) are white, yellowish or greenish lumps that collect in the crypts of the tonsils. They are usually a consequence of numerous viral and bacterial infections of the throat, such as recurrent angina, tonsillitis, and therefore they are more common in adults than in children.

Tonsil stones - causes

After a few such diseases - although sometimes one serious angina is enough - the smooth surface of the tonsils changes. It overgrows with scar tissue, becomes fibrous and becomes folded, furrowed, with numerous depressions and crypts. These nooks and crannies are where food debris, dead tissue, dead white blood cells, and sinus secretions collect. Since it is constantly warm and humid there, ideal conditions are created for the development of microorganisms.

Oral anaerobic bacteria, as well as fungi, thicken, eventually calcify and begin to resemble tiny pebbles with a very unpleasant odor.

Tonsil stones can reach the size of a buckwheat grain, but they can also grow to the size of a cherry. They weigh from 0.56 to 42 grams. We usually deal with larger specimens when they place themselves in such a way that we cannot see them. Only when we start to feel that there is a foreign body in the throat that makes it difficult to swallow, we go to the doctor (internist, ENT specialist).

It also happens that stones are diagnosed during a visit to the dentist, because, as a hard mass, they are sometimes visible on the X-ray image (pantomogram). Usually, when viewing the throat, we notice a white or yellowish lump on the tonsil, we try to remove it ourselves. Unfortunately, tonsil stones tend to rejuvenate (within 1-20 days).

Tonsil stones - symptoms

The presence of tonsil stones canaccompany:

  • halitosis, an unpleasant smell from the mouth that does not disappear after brushing your teeth or rinsing your mouth. This smell is caused by volatile sulfur compounds resulting from the action of anaerobic bacteria, as well as putrescine, which is produced in the process of rotting.
  • large red tonsils
  • sore throat
  • pain when swallowing
  • scratchy throat when swallowing
  • foreign body sensation in esophagus
  • chronic cough
  • earaches
  • feeling of spontaneous falling of stones e.g. when coughing (very rarely)

NOTETonsil stones can be confused with strep throat. However, antibiotic therapy used in the treatment of angina, in this case will be completely ineffective, moreover, the drug will only worsen the patient's condition.

Tonsil stones - treatment

  • Laser removal of tonsil stones, i.e. cryptolysis or vaporizationThis method is used for large stones. It is effective, but usually needs to be repeated several times. It consists in closing or shallowing the crypts in the tonsils with a laser or a current of variable frequency. Local anesthesia is performed during the procedure, so it is painless. Pain may not appear until later - after the treatment, the tonsils may be sore and enlarged for some time. A type of cryptolysis is cryoablation (cryolysis) performed with the use of liquid nitrogen.
  • Antibiotic therapyThe method is used only when purulent infiltrates appear on the tonsils. However, it does not eliminate the source of the problem.
  • TonsilectomyA radical and final method, not devoid of other consequences, after all, tonsils are our first line of defense against germs. A person with a tonsil removed is more prone to inflammation of the lower respiratory tract. Therefore, it should always be carefully considered whether the benefits of surgery outweigh any possible side effects. It should also be noted that tonsillectomy cannot be performed in patients with a cleft palate, with a short palate, with blood coagulation disorders and, of course, during an acute infection with fever, and in women during menstruation. Pregnant women should consider postponing the procedure with their attending physician until they recover after childbirth.

Tonsil stones - home remedies

  • You can try to remove stones on your own with a cosmetic spatula or a small spoon. It is not a pleasant procedure and you should reckon with the appearance of a gag reflex. Moreover, usually in the place of removed stones, after some timenew ones are created.
  • Thorough oral hygiene. Thoroughly brushing your teeth and tongue, flossing your teeth, and rinsing your throat prevent, at least to some extent, food debris and bacteria from accumulating in the tonsil crypts.
  • Rinse the mouth, e.g. with an irrigator with a bactericidal liquid or s alt water (1/2 teaspoon per glass of water) with apple or wine vinegar (2-3 times a day). Sage infusion, hydrogen peroxide and propolis also work well (alcoholic propolis solutions are available in pharmacies). Rinses will help in the fight against unpleasant breathing.
  • Since sugar promotes the multiplication of bacteria, it is worth changing your diet and excluding sweetened products.
  • Quit smoking.

Tonsil stones - complications

Stones still remaining in the tonsil crypts can cause persistent inflammation, not only of the tonsils, but also otitis media, pharyngitis, and may lead to pharyngitis and serious swallowing disorders. Stones are also a potential source of bacteremia, i.e. bloodstream infections, and, consequently, can lead to endocarditis. To avoid this, in the case of very troublesome stones, tonsilectomy is indicated.

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