Why Do I Have Tonsil Stones?

Why Do I Have Tonsil Stones?

October 29, 2019 100 By William Morgan


A sore throat can be a sign of all kinds of
medical maladies.
You might have caught a cold from your coworkers,
or just cheered too loudly at the big game
last night.
But if it feels like there’s an irritating
lump in your throat, there might actually
be something stuck back there: a whitish-yellowish
tonsil stone.
These hard globs come from the food bits,
dead cells, and other junk in your mouth.
But even though they might be a little weird
and uncomfortable and gross, they’re not
really dangerous.
Your tonsils are part of your lymphatic system.
They work with a bunch of other tissues to
get rid of waste, and fight off infections.
There are actually three different groups
of tonsils, but tonsil stones mostly show
up in the palatine tonsils
The palatine tonsils are those two squishy
patches at the back of your throat that you
can see in the mirror if you open your mouth
wide enough.
The palatine tonsils are full of tonsillar
crypts, which are deep folds of tissue that
are designed to lure in bacteria and maximize
the amount of tissue that those bacteria touch.
That way, lots of immune cells can be exposed
to potential pathogens, and start to build
up a targeted immune response with antibodies
to fight them off.
Unfortunately, when you have cozy crevices
for bacteria, sometimes they get a little
too comfortable.
These crypts can collect dead cells, extra
mucus, and food debris or other particles
that somehow end up in your mouth – which
provide a delicious breeding ground for lots
of different microbes.
After a film of bacteria forms, these goopy
lumps can start to calcify, becoming hard
structures made of calcium and other minerals.
The solid lumps that form are called tonsil
stones, or tonsilloliths.
Tonsil stones can vary in size from a couple
millimeters to a couple centimeters.
Sometimes people just swallow them, or sometimes
they stick around and can irritate your throat.
Some bacteria that have been found on tonsil
stones produce lots of sulfur compounds, which
might cause bad breath.
But that’s usually the worst of it.
It’s really rare for tonsil stones to get
big enough to be dangerous and make swallowing
painful or difficult.
If you want to get rid of them, you can try
to pop them out using a brush or some gargling.
Or you can go to an ear, nose, and throat
doctor for extra help.
Tonsil-removing surgery is a last resort,
if these chunks form all the time, or become
severely irritating.
Other than surgery, there’s not much you
can do to stop tonsil stones from forming.
They’re just one of those weird things your
body does sometimes.
But at least they’re not dangerous.
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