Dealing with Tonsil Stones: A Guide from a Leading Otolaryngologist in Singapore
Tonsils are lymph nodes located above the tongue on both sides of the throat. Their function is to participate in the body’s defense mechanism as a filter that retains viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms. But they might be prone to infection themselves. In this case, consider getting help from a leading otolaryngologist in Singapore.
Here is all you need to know about tonsil stones, what causes them, symptoms, and treatment.
What are the Tonsil Stones?
Tonsil stones are calcium depositions of debris trapped inside tonsils. It happens when food leftovers, epithelial cells, and mucus remain stuck in the tonsils. It leads to the bacteria that causes inflammation and infection, called tonsillitis.
There are three main types of tonsil stones:
- Pharyngeal – Positioned in the back of the throat
- Palatine – Occurring on sides of the throat
- Lingual – Near the end of the tongue
What Causes the Tonsil Stones?
Tonsils have many tubes, holes, and tunnels, known as tonsil crypts. These pockets are ideal for debris to stuck and build up inside them. Different types of bacteria are feeding on this debris, causing a bad smell. Over time, the food debris and bacteria develop a small tonsil stone.
Here is the list of the other things that can cause tonsil stones:
- Poor dental hygiene
- Chronic sinusitis
- Large, infected tonsils
Signs and Symptoms Caused by Tonsil Stones
Besides the bad breath, here is a list of several other signs that you may notice:
- Bad breath
- Sore throat
- Hoarseness (hoarse voice)
- Chronic cough
- White debris
- Swallowing difficulty
- Earache (pain in one or both ears)
- Swollen tonsils
- Sleep apnea (breathing problems during sleep)
If you notice any of those symptoms of tonsil stones, then you must see the doctor. An ENT doctor (doctor for ears, nose, and throat) will choose the best suitable treatment for you.
As mentioned before, small tonsil stones can be invisible. They are yellowish spots, which size may vary. If large enough, it’s easy to spot them in the back end of your throat.
Preventing Tonsil Stones
Exceptional oral hygiene is the best way to avoid tonsil stones. Brushing teeth twice a day and rinsing your mouth with a mouthwash will keep your teeth, mouth, and larynx healthy. We also recommend visiting an ENT specialist frequently.
Here is a list of some home remedies that may help to put an end to tonsil stones:
- Drinking lots of water and unsweetened tea
- Quit smoking
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Treat sinus infections or allergies
- Reduce carbonated beverages and sugary drinks
However, sometimes these methods may not work, and tonsillitis may require more invasive procedures, such as surgery.
Tonsil Stones Surgery and Therapy
It is difficult to detect when the tonsil stone is a serious problem and when it’s not. We strongly advise you to make an appointment with your doctor.
The treatment for tonsil stones includes:
- Medication: Your ENT doctor may prescribe antibiotics to scale downside effects or help to reduce bacteria. However, keep in mind that medicine can’t remove the stones; it can only ease the symptoms.
- Surgical Removal: An ENT surgeon will remove tonsil stones if they are huge or if causing severe problems.
- Tonsillectomy: Long-term tonsils might call for surgical removal through a tonsillectomy. It is the only long-lasting and permanent method of tonsil stone removal.
How Long Do Tonsil Stones Last?
Tonsil stones may dissolve on their own very quickly, but they also may last for weeks if the bacteria continues to grow. If not treated, tonsil stones may last for years.
Why are Children More Exposed to Tonsil Stones?
Children who suffer constant episodes of tonsillitis are often prone to tonsil stones. However, the tonsils become smaller by the time the child reaches 10. Therefore, the tonsillar crypts (holes and folds) shrink as well, and there is no need for treatment.
Need Help with Tonsil Stones?
Sometimes surgery is the only way when it comes to removing the tonsil stones. ENT doctors can usually diagnose tonsil stones with a physical exam only. If tonsil stones hide in the creases of your tonsils, you might need CT or MRI scans to detect them.