If you still have your tonsils and are experiencing unpleasant symptoms like bad breath, sore throat, and ear pain, it could be due to tonsil stones. At Desert Cities Allergy & Otolaryngology, Majid Torabi, MD, FACS, and Ryan Salvador, MD, provide expert diagnosis and treatment for tonsil stones at their two offices in Rancho Mirage and La Quinta, California. Call the location nearest you to schedule a consultation or book an appointment using the online form.
Tonsil stones (tonsilloliths) are collections of debris and bacteria around your tonsils that form hard, sometimes painful little lumps.
You have two tonsils, one on each side of the back of your throat. Tonsils contain lymphocytes, which are cells that help prevent and fight off infection. It appears that tonsils play a role in the immune system, trapping bacteria and viruses that enter your throat.
Unfortunately, tonsils often don't work well, and they can be more of a bother than a benefit. Tonsil stones are just one of the problems you can encounter with your tonsils.
Tonsil stones form when dead cells, mucus, bacteria, and bits of debris get trapped in the nooks and crannies around your tonsils. The debris may bond together and calcify (harden) to form tonsil stones.
Tonsil stones are more likely to develop if you suffer repeated bouts of tonsillitis or have long-term tonsil inflammation. Small tonsil stones are common, but large ones are unusual.
Tonsil stones often don't cause any symptoms, or at least nothing noticeable. If they do become symptomatic, you might experience:
You might also see a solid lump of white material in your throat.
Your provider at Desert Cities Allergy & Otolaryngology can usually diagnose tonsil stones by looking at your throat. If they suspect tonsil stones but can't see them, your provider might recommend an on-site CT scan.
If your tonsil stones aren't causing any problems, they don't need treatment. If your tonsil stones are affecting you, there are several options available:
Antibiotics might be necessary if you have an infection. However, they don't do anything to get rid of the stones.
Cryptolysis uses laser or radiofrequency technology to create scars on your tonsils. The scarring means tonsil stones are less likely to form.
If you have particularly large or troublesome tonsil stones, your provider at Desert Cities Allergy & Otolaryngology might recommend surgical removal.
Removing your tonsils could be the answer if you have persistent or severe tonsil stones. Tonsillectomy involves cutting out the tonsils, providing a permanent solution to chronic tonsil trouble.
Tonsil removal doesn't affect your immune system. Studies show that people who've undergone a tonsillectomy aren't at higher risk of developing respiratory infections like colds and flu.
If you're having tonsil trouble, call Desert Cities Allergy & Otolaryngology today or book an appointment online.