Tonsil Stones or Tonsillolith – The Facts
Tonsil stones are small out growth that exists in the throat of human beings due to infection and due to accumulation of substances such as sulphur, calcium, phosphorus etc.
It is not a severe condition but it might lead to a severe condition if they are not cured at the right time.
Tonsil stones are also known as tonsilloliths. Calcification of the tonsil crypts formed due to the concentration of fragmented remains of dead and damaged cells inside the tonsil is called Tonsillolith or Tonsil stones. They can occur in palatine tonsils and also in lingual tonsils.
Tonsils contain white blood cells or lymphocytes which provide immunity to the throat by trapping foreign particles and bacteria.Sometimes this may result in the formation of a white or as it is calcified bone like debris.
These are tonsil stones. The biofilm of the white or yellowish hard concretions in the tonsil is composed of calcium hydroxyproline, calcium carbonate and other minerals like phosphorus, ammonia and magnesium.They have a weight of 0.3 to 42g approximately.
What are Tonsil Crypts?
They get removed naturally within a few months after birth by shrinking.At times, they do shrink and may extend to formalities.
Biofilm forming in these crevices may lead to the formation of tonsillolith.Tonsil crypts consist of distinct types of epithelium (squamous epithelium) and a network of canals.
They provide the first immunity to the tonsils by protecting against microorganisms.At times, they allow an environment of bacterial colony to form in these crevices.This prevents the normal flow of pus from the crypts causing throat inflammation and irritation.
There are several questions that arise whenever the topic of discussion . People often are seen to get panic whenever they observe tonsillolith in their throat, but the fact is these stones are absolutely normal and there is no need of panicking.
It is although advisable to consult an ENT specialist. Question such as,
- are tonsil stones a sign of cancer?
- are they contagious?
- are they contagious through kissing?
always arises whenever we discuss about tonsil stones.
Many people ask one question that is tonsil stones a sign of cancer and their panics, but the answer is probably no. If these stones are treated at a very early stage, tonsillolith are not a very serious problem.
Tonsilloliths are not cancerous in any way. Cancers are formed due to the multiple growth of cells unlike the case of a tonsilloliths, which is a calcified cluster formed in the crevices of the tonsil.They are absolutely harmless and can even be treated at home.Tonsil cancers are also very rare.
There are several factors that need to be considered when the topic of tonsil stones being contagious is in discussion.
Tonsil stones are generally not contagious unless a direct contact is made with the infected person.
Unless the person has an intention to make it infected to another person, it does not spread.To take precautions, we can clean the utensils like a spoon or a dish properly if used by the person having such this disorder.
Whenever the infected person coughs we can wash our face and hands and aware the infected person of throwing his/her coughs to a place, where others do not get infected.
Long intense kissing with the infested person may cause the other person to get infected.
- Chances of saliva and bacterial flow during long time kissing and smooching from the infected person’s mouth may cause the infection to get transmitted.
The virus that affects the tonsil stones is known as human papilloma virus or HPV and in most of the cases it is seen that this virus is the root cause of tonsillolith.
When this virus enters the buccal cavity of one human being through kissing or any other means, it is possible that HPV will attack that person too. So it is possible that one can get tonsil stones due to kiss but this scenario is very rare and may be once in a blue moon.
Tonsil stone images
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Are tonsil stones harmful or dangerous?
They are not harmful or dangerous in any way.
Tonsillolith in the early stages are just simple infection that goes away after sometimes. The specialist doesn’t even prescribe anything for these stones.
Sometime a mouth wash with salt lukewarm water can reduce the stones. But if the stones persist that it can be an issue of concern but apart from that the rest is alright.
What are the symptoms of tonsil stones?
- Bad breath is one of the most common symptoms.
- Sore throat is one major symptom
- Problems while swallowing food.
- Coughing a very little amount.
- Tonsil irritation
- Ear ache and tenderness that persists for too long
- Acute headache that does not seem to go away
- Dizziness in some of the cases
But all these symptoms do not confirm tonsillolith. An ENT specialist can confirm such conditions because all the above symptoms can be due to several other reasons.
What are the types of tonsil stones?
There are different kinds of tonsil stones that are medically approved. Some of them are listed below:
Chronic tonsil stones
Chronic tonsil stones are those that occurs in the later stage and in this stage the person feels pain in the throat and also the person is not bale to eat properly and breathe properly
Green tonsil stones
Green tonsil stones are a severe condition of tonsillolith when the infection becomes deep-rooted.Green lumps are given out through coughing.It may stay for years if not took proper treatment.It has a bad odor.Medicines suggested for the treatment includes a mixture of alkyl,hydrogen peroxide and water.
Bloody tonsil stones
This means the tonsil stones have become increasingly large and have extended deep into the mouth of tearing soft tissues.Bad breath,swallowing problems are the most severe cases seen. There are several mouthwashes for tonsil stones that are available.
The area affected is stitched and antibiotics are taken for a specific period of time. Tonsillectomy is required if the case is really serious.