You’ve had a sore throat for days and no matter how much gum you chew, your rancid breath is not going away…what in the world is going on? A logical guess might be a cold; I know when I get a cold, my mouth tends to taste less-than-plesant and your throat can get very sore. But if these are more than passing symptoms, you may be experiencing something very different: tonsil stones.
Never heard of them? Not surprising! Not many people have and that’s okay. But being able to identify and even prevent tonsil stones could save you from some discomfort and even potential infections.
What are the symptoms of tonsil stones?
As previously mentioned, the big warning signs of tonsil stones are a sore throat and chronic bad breath. If you’ve had these symptoms for a day or two, it may be nothing, but a prolonged aching throat and noticeably bad breath for more than a few days will be your first giveaways.
Another clue is coughing up yellow, irregularly-shaped and foul-smelling particles. If you’re noticing these particles, you are probably infected with tonsil stones.
What do tonsil stones look like?
The good thing about tonsil stones is that generally you can see if you have them. Stick your tongue out and look in the mirror – if you see white or yellow bumps around your tonsils or throat, you may have stones.
What causes tonsil stones?
Tonsil stones are thought to come from a build-up of food debris or mucus from post-nasal drip. This build-up causes bacteria to form and a sizeable lump to calcify to the tonsil (a.k.a. they stick to your tonsils and grow there as bacteria develops).
What are the affects of tonsil stones?
Luckily, nothing severe. While many people have feared the stones may cause cancer, that fear is unfounded. However, because of the bacteria in the tonsil stones, you could contract an infection in the throat or continue experiencing irritable symptoms if the stones go untreated.
How are tonsil stones treated?
Because tonsil stones contain bacteria, most doctors will give you antibiotics to ease the soreness and get rid of them. This may work, depending on how early you’ve caught the stones. If they are too big, however, surgery will need to be performed to remove them. Consult your Ear, Nose and Throat doctor for more information.
Can I prevent tonsil stones myself?
Absolutely! What causes the stones is a build-up of food and/or mucus, so all you need to do is work to break up those blockages. A regular mouthwash is the quickest and easiest way to stop these build-ups and kill the bacteria inside of them.
If you think you may be suffering from tonsil stones, knowing this information could be critical for you going forward! Make sure to consult your ENT doctor for a professional opinion if you’re concerned. In the meantime? Gargle, gargle, gargle!