Ever have that dull sore-throat pain that makes you feel like you have strep throat? It may not always be strep throat! Tonsil stones, formally named tonsilloliths, are chunks in the tonsils’ deep pockets that are composed of mucus, dead cells, and other debris. They are usually not any bigger than a pencil eraser, but they have existed to be more than an inch wide.
They are very commonly misdiagnosed (i.e. as food particles), and it has not been until recently that people have started to realize how widespread of an affliction it is. Also, tonsil stones can cause bad breath, dry mouth, sore throats, and ear pain.
Our very own Dr. Katz was interviewed by the NY Times, and he mentioned that one of the main questions he gets is “what are those things growing in my tonsils?”
As far as tonsil stones solutions, some patients try removing them manually with a Q-tip. Dr. Katz recommends not getting surgery, but trying oxygenating mouthwashes and sinus sprays, since those neutralize the anaerobic bacteria that causes the stones. Tonsillectomies can work, but it is not always recommended since some patients can get complications and excess bleeding.
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