Tonsil Stones: That Hard Lump in the Back of Your Throat

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tonsil stonesHave you ever noticed a hard white or yellow lump in the back of your throat? You may have thought it was nothing more than a piece of popcorn that got stuck, but it could be more than that. It could be a tonsil stone.

What Are Tonsil Stones?

Your tonsils are soft pieces of flesh that are located in the back of the throat. They are made up of tissues, similar to lymph nodes, covered by pink mucosa that help in boosting the immune system by fighting and preventing infections. However, there are reasons your tonsils can fail to perform properly, and one of the main culprits is tonsil stones.

Tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths, are calcified stones that develop in the tonsil crypts. They are formed by bacteria, food particles, and/or other debris collecting in the grooves of the tonsils. Many people experience tonsil stones, but not everyone will realize it because the stones are often too small to notice. Some people will have only one tonsil stone, while others can have many smaller formations.

Most people end up swallowing the mass and never even know it was there. If it grows larger, however, it can cause a sore throat, earache, tonsillitis, discomfort, and bad breath. Bacteria and fungi feed on the buildup and contribute a distinct odor, which causes the bad breath.

Dealing with the Causes of Tonsilloliths

Some potential causes of tonsil stones include bad dental hygiene, having large tonsils, and having chronic sinus issues. There are steps that can be taken to prevent tonsil stones, including practicing good oral hygiene and cleaning the bacteria off the back of your tongue when you brush your teeth. You can also gargle with salt water, which can prevent tonsil stone formation and eliminate the odor they cause. Be sure to drink enough water every day and stay hydrated.

Equally important is eating a healthy diet. Avoiding sugars and processed foods will help prevent tonsil stones from developing in the first place. Try to eat all-natural food and drink lots of water to help flush out any pieces of food or bacteria that could lead to the formation of stones.

Bad Breath & Tonsil Stones

If you have unexplained bad breath, it is possible that you may have tonsil stones. To help freshen your breath if you do have tonsil stones, I recommend swishing some organic coconut oil around in your mouth. Coconut oil has been found to be just as effective as mouthwash for treating bad breath.

Drinking a cup of green tea can also greatly help to freshen your breath, as it has disinfectant and deodorant properties. You can also try chewing parsley; it has been found to neutralize bad breath and odors because of its high amount of chlorophyll.

Removing Tonsilloliths

If you do develop stones, they can usually be removed using a cotton swab or water flossing device to help dislodge any debris that may be stuck. In most cases, they will go away on their own, but if they continue to multiply, this could turn into a more serious condition that may need to be treated by a doctor.

Tonsil stones are said to occur most commonly in those aged 50 to 69. It is important to remember that while tonsil stones are not too dangerous or life threatening, it is best to prevent them as they can cause discomfort and disrupt your quality of life. If your tonsils cause you regular discomfort, ask your doctor about treatment options.


Sources:
“Are Tonsil Stones the Reason for Your Bad Breath?” Mercola web site; http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/07/15/tonsil-stones.aspx, last accessed May 19, 2017.
“What are Tonsil Stones & How are they Formed? Treatment Methods,” Tonsil Stones web site; https://tonsilstoness.com/, last accessed May 19, 2017.

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