Velocity Care explores the signs and symptoms of tonsil stones
Many people have never heard of tonsil stones. This affliction affects close to 10 percent of the population, and the number continues to grow as fewer people are receiving tonsillectomies.
What is a tonsil stone?
Located on either side of the back of your throat are two glands known as tonsils. Your tonsils are a part of your immune system and act as a first line of defense to fight off bacteria and viruses as they enter your body. Tonsils consist of lymphatic tissue, which is often bumpy, with small craters and pits along the surface. Over time, food debris, mucus and bacteria can build up in these craters and form together to make tiny stones. Known as tonsil stones or tonsiloliths, these stones are usually somewhat soft in texture and yellowish in color. Often the stones will fall out of the tonsils on their own; however, in some circumstances the pits in the tonsils become impacted with debris, causing pain and inflammation.
What are the symptoms of tonsil stones?
Many people will have tonsil stones and never even know they are there, while others suffer with symptoms. Common symptoms of tonsil stones include:
- Bad breath.
- Chronic sore throat that comes and goes.
- Swelling, redness and inflammation of the tonsils.
- Pain that radiates up into the ears or down into the jaw.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Yellowish debris in the tonsils.
What are some preventative measures to keep tonsil stones from forming?
Good oral hygiene practices can help prevent tonsil stones, such as the following:
- Brushing your teeth and tongue at least twice a day to prevent excess bacteria buildup.
- Using a tongue scraper.
- Flossing every day.
- Drinking plenty of water every day.
What treatment options are available?
Tonsil stones can be difficult to treat. Some treatments to try include the following:
- A saltwater rinse helps reduce bacteria, loosens any stones that are present in the tonsils and helps to reduce swelling and inflammation in the throat.
- An oral irrigator can help to dislodge and remove stones, however, you should speak to your doctor first to prevent injuring the delicate tissue of your tonsils.
- Laser or coblation cryptolysis procedures use laser-like devices to smooth the surface of the tonsil, minimizing the amount of pits and craters. Doctors will perform these procedures in the hospital under local anesthetic and the recovery time is minimal.
- A tonsillectomy is a last-resort option. Doctors perform this procedure under general anesthesia, and it involves the complete removal of both tonsils. The risk factors for this surgery become greater the older you get, as does the recovery time, which is usually anywhere from two to three weeks.
Speaking to your doctor about your tonsil stones is the best way to determine what treatment option will work for you. At Velocity Care Urgent Treatment Center, we are proud to offer the highest standards of patient care, and we do so with minimal wait times. Our conveniently located walk-in clinics in Little Rock, Arkansas; Shreveport, Louisiana; Bossier City, Louisiana; and Natchitoches, Louisiana, are always accepting new patients and offer a wide range of services.
Photo credit: 123RF Stock Photo
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