If you ever have to deal with frequent throat pain associated with tonsil swelling even if you don’t seem to have an infection, you might have what are known as tonsil stones. Since the symptoms they cause never degenerate into anything more serious, medical professionals don’t usually put much emphasis into diagnosing them. However, just because they cannot be as serious threat to your overall health doesn’t mean that the pain and discomfort they cause is fun to live with.
What are tonsil stones exactly?
In your throat around your tonsils are small flaps of flesh that can house the formation of the stones. For some people, these crevices are deeper that for others and are therefore more prone to develop this condition around the lingual and palatine areas of the tonsils. The stones themselves are made up of different types of minerals. In fact, analysing their content can reveal magnesium, calcium, ammonia and carbonate residues, among others.
On average, they are about the size of a pea and weigh about 300 milligrams which is less than the weight of a multivitamin tablet. Since they are usually so small and therefore can’t cause any serious health issues, doctors don’t make a big deal out of them. In some isolated cases they can become much larger in which case it becomes essential to remove them.
Removing them requires the right doctor
While most regular health practitioners don’t make a fuss about them or have a hard time diagnosing them, an ENT doctor (specialized in conditions affecting the ears, nose and throat) does take them more seriously. He will be better at finding them and figuring out what is the best way to get rid of them. If you have symptoms that can indicate the presence of tonsil stones (such as constant pain and discomfort, especially while swallowing) consulting an ENT doctor is the best thing you can do. Depending on the size and location of the stones, your ENT doctor might have to apply a local anaesthetic to make the process fast and painless.
A homemade solution
Some individuals prefer to remove the tonsil stones manually at home. To do this, they use either a pick of cotton swab and proceed to dislodge them from inside the tonsil crevices. This of course requires a mirror and a good light source in order to see exactly where the stones are located and where they are poking around. This way of doing has its downsides though as it can induce quite severe gag reflex making it even harder to get rid of the stones. Not everybody has this reflex though but if you do, it is still better and easier to see the right doctor.
Lookout for bad breath
One final thing to know about tonsil stones is that if you have had them once, they will most likely come back. Since they are caused in part by a certain type of bacteria that is also a source of bad breath, be on the lookout for recurring halitosis. This sign is a strong indicator of tonsil stones and when other symptoms such as pain while swallowing are present, it might be a good time to get them removed.