What Do Tonsil Stones Look Like?
Warning: Graphic content
Practicing good oral hygiene
The bacteria inside the mouth can help in the formation of tonsil stones by accumulating the food particles and other types of substances in the mouth.
Gargle with salt water
Salt water will prevent the accumulation of tonsil stones in your mouth as it cleans away the debris that may have accumulated. It is also a great remedy for a sore throat.
Always stay hydrated
Drink the required amount of water every day. Water can help flush the debris that gets accumulated in the tonsils and creates an ideal environment that can eliminate harmful bacteria.
Eating raw onions and cloves of garlic
Onions and garlic are two ingredients that possess antibacterial properties. Since tonsil stones are caused by a bacterial infection, garlic and onion may help prevent their accumulation.
Yogurt is also great in removing tonsil stones as it contains substances called probiotics, which help remove bad bacteria successfully.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet
To prevent the formation of tonsil stones, consume a diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals.
Frequent smoking can lead to a dry mouth and throat. For this reason, smoking can definitely trigger tonsil stone formation.
What Are Tonsils?
The tonsils present in the human body are basically gland-like structures which are located in the back of the throat. They can be found in a pocket on each side of the throat. Tonsils are made up of tiny tissues that contain lymphocytes. These are essentially cells present in the body that help fight against infections and also prevent infections. It is said that the tonsils play a vital role in the immune system, and they are meant to function similar to the nets that trap incoming bacteria as well as the particles of viruses, which would otherwise freely pass through the throat. Most medical experts believe that the tonsils often do not perform their job well, meaning, in certain instances, they may be more of a hindrance instead of helping the body. Certain evidence also suggests that an individual who has had their tonsils removed is not likely to suffer any form of viral or bacterial infection versus those who still have their tonsils intact.
What Are Tonsil Stones?
Tonsils are known to be filled with nooks and crannies, wherein viral, bacterial, and any other material, which can also include dead cells as well as mucus, often get trapped. When such an event occurs, the debris then becomes concentrated into formations that are white in color and mostly occur in the pockets. Tonsil stones, which are also known as tonsilloiths, tend to form when this debris, which has been trapped, hardens or calcifies. This is known to commonly occur in individuals who suffer from chronic cases of inflammation in their tonsils or who suffer from repeated bouts of tonsillitis. Many a times, people have small tonsilloliths that tend to develop in their tonsils, and it is quite rare for one to have a larger, solidified version of a tonsil stone in their tonsils.
The tonsil stones are mostly white in color or can be whitish yellow in appearance. They do not have a regular shape. In the case of young individuals, the tonsil stones may appear as a cream-colored lump, whereas in the case of children and teenagers, they are known to mostly cough up a cream-colored matter, which is also known as tonsil stones. Tonsil stones can be small in size, like a grain of sand, or they can grow as large as a pea. The stones are located in the clefts, which is also known as the tonsillar crypts, of the throat. Tonsil stones are mostly found at the back of the throat. They are made up of chalky deposits which are said to be made of calcium carbonate, hence, it gives them their white appearance.
Many a times, in the case of small tonsil stones, they do not exhibit any symptoms that are noticeable. Likewise, in the case of larger ones, they would also not show any noticeable signs. Often, the discovery of tonsil stones occurs when someone has an X-ray or a CT scan done in a medical setting. Certain larger versions of tonsil stones would have the following symptoms:
- Bad odor or breath: One of the main indicators of a tonsil stone is exceedingly bad breath, which is also known as halitosis. This is then accompanied by a tonsil infection.
- Sore throat: When an individual has tonsil stones along with tonsillitis, it becomes quite difficult to determine whether the pain that is arising in the throat is due to the infection from the tonsil stone or the tonsillitis. The presence of a tonsil stone may lead to a lot of pain as well as discomfort in the region where the stone has become lodged.
- Inability to swallow: Based on the location and size of the tonsil stone, it may become difficult for an individual to swallow food or even liquids. In certain cases, it can turn out to be a rather painful task.
- White debris: Some tonsil stones are very visible at the back of the throat. They appear as a lump of solid white material. But this would not always be the case. Many a times, these stones are hidden in the folds of the tonsils, and in such cases, they would only be detectable with the help of certain imaging techniques such as CT scans or an MRI.
- Pain in the ear: Tonsil stones are known to develop just about anywhere in the tonsils. Because it has a shared nerve pathway, the individual may also feel the pain in the ear, even when the stone itself is not touching the ear.
- Swelling of the tonsil: When the debris that has been collected hardens and leads to the formation of a tonsil stone, inflammation, which occurs due to the infection, if it is present along with the tonsil stone, is known to cause the tonsil to swell and, in certain cases, it can grow larger as well.
Treatment and Prevention
The most appropriate treatment for tonsil stones would be dependent on the size of the tonsil stone and also the severity of the issue. Many a times, there would not be any need for treatment, especially for the ones that do not show any symptoms. Also, in a few cases, instead of visiting the doctor, the individual might actually think of handling the stones at home. Some of them choose to dislodge the tonsil stones at home by using a pick or cotton swab.
Another option would be to gargle with salt water. Gargling with salt and warm water helps to ease the discomfort that has been caused due to the tonsil stones.
The following are a few of the home remedies one can try to treat their swollen tonsils:
- Be sure to gargle with warm salt water at least three to four times a day.
- You should keep yourself hydrated all day, and in between, remember to have warm beverages so as to calm down the irritation caused due to tonsillitis, which is known to accompany tonsil stones.
- You can also try certain over-the-counter medications if the inflammation or pain becomes unbearable.
- Avoid activities that can may aggravate the throat, such as screaming or yelling.
To prevent the formation of tonsil stones, it is important to follow certain habits on a daily basis. These include:
- Make it a practice to frequently wash your hands using a mild soap or liquid that is not loaded with harsh chemicals.
- Try to avoid sharing any foods, drinks, or utensils so as to prevent any infection, if one is present.
- Get ample amounts of rest
- It is important to keep oneself away from those who are infected with swollen tonsils.
Tonsil stones are not considered to be a harmful condition, even though they lead to discomforting and painful symptoms. If the home remedies do not provide any relief, then it is best to reach out to a doctor in such cases instead of delaying the matter.