Tonsilloliths or tonsil stones are an assemblage of calcified material formed in the tonsil glands. This material contains large quantities of calcium along with magnesium, ammonia, phosphorous and carbonate and on average they can weigh between 30 milligrams and 42 grams.
Similar to glands, your tonsils are present in your throat towards the back side. They are actually situated in a small pocket that is found on each side. Tissues containing lymphocytes assemble together and form tonsils. Lymphocytes are those body cells that fight against infections and try to protect you from them.
What They Do And Why They Are Formed
The main function of tonsils is to aid the immune system in the body. They achieve this by defending against viruses and bacteria that enter in your body through the throat.
There are quite a few reasons as to why tonsil stones are formed in the body. If you do not brush your teeth properly, food particles will remain in your mouth and will allow bacteria to grow. If the growth increases significantly, this bacteria can reach the tonsil glands and lead to formation of stones. Other than the teeth, food particles can also get stuck in your throat and contribute towards stone formation.
There are quite a few symptoms of tonsil stones, but a sign which is present in most of the cases is bad breath. The person may use the highest quality oral rinses, mouthwashes and fresheners, but the smell still prevails. As such, tonsil stones cause embarrassment and must be treated right away. While they are usually not harmful, the associated foul smell is why people seek medical care.
If your mouth remains dry, then you are also prone to the formation of tonsil stones. If not enough saliva is produced, your mouth will not remain clean, and may once again give rise to bacteria and eventually, tonsil stones. Whatever the cause, the tonsils are generally removed, however, this does not have a significant effect on the immune system and the person's body is still capable of defending him from foreign bodies.
Why They Cause You Pain
Tonsillitis or tonsil stones arise when the tonsil glands become inflamed. These are actually two pads of tissue that are oval in shape and lie towards the back of the throat. There are certain regions in the body where hard stones can form and cause you pain. The kidney is perhaps the most popular example of this, but that is not the only organ in which stones can form. Your tonsils are another area prone to stone formation and may cause you discomfort depending on the condition and severity.
How You Can Treat Them
If there are tonsil stones in your body, your throat will probably feel sore and you will have difficulty swallowing. You may also feel a headache and catch a fever. In rare cases, the voice is also affected. If all these signs persist, contact a doctor. Depending on the severity, your tonsils might be treated with antibiotics, steroid shots, or surgery.
There are several home-based treatments that can help tonsil stones that you can use solely if your condition is not severe or in conjunction with other treatment plans which your doctor recommends.
Get ample rest, do not participate in anything that may cause tiredness or fatigue, and try to sleep for more than eight hours. Drink lots of water so that your throat remains moisturized and prevents dehydration. Avoid speaking too much since tonsil stones can affect your voice in some cases. Eat food that can help soothe your sore throat such as coffee or hot cocoa. Gargle with warm, salted water to help inflamed tonsils. Put one teaspoon of salt in about eight ounces of water and gargle for about two or three times a day. Use a humidifier so that your room does not become dry enough, which can alleviate sore throat and decrease your pain. Stay away from smoke, dust and other things that can irritate your throat. Take medicines which can relieve you of the pain. If along with tonsil stones you are suffering from fever as well, treatment with drugs is an option.
Your doctor will prescribe certain medications, particularly if bacterial infection is the cause of your disease. In most cases, these medications will usually be antibiotics. A common name among these is penicillin, which has to be taken for almost 10 days. Even if your symptoms disappear, you will still have to take antibiotics throughout the time period for which your doctor prescribed them. If you fail to do so, your symptoms can worsen and several complications can arise such as kidney inflammation and rheumatic fever.
Surgery is the last treatment option for tonsils. Your doctor will consider it only when other treatment plans fail to produce effective results. If your stone formation is frequent, then your doctor will suggest surgery, which is usually referred to as a tonsillectomy.
A tonsillectomy is conducted when you have been given a dose of anesthesia. A tube is passed through the nose into the cavity so that a person can easily breath during the process. Surgery is performed through the mouth, which is kept open with a tool. A laser or another heated instrument is guided to where the tonsil stones are located, which are then cut away. The entire procedure is finished in just about an hour. You can be allowed to go home on the same day, but you will be fully recovered in about 14 days.