The number of adults with tonsil stones is rising, and researchers suspect this is a result of the large amount of individuals who have not had their tonsils surgically removed. For some people, the presence of another health condition can lead to the formation of tonsil stones and the potential for long-term discomfort.
Symptoms of tonsil stones include swollen tonsils, localized redness, and irritation. Many people also experience chronic bad breath as a result of the bacterial accumulation in these tonsil stones. For most patients, tonsil stones are simply annoying and rarely involve significant health complications. In rare cases, however, individuals may experience chronic tonsil inflammation or tonsillitis. Physicians have noted that those with repeated episodes of tonsillitis are more likely to develop tonsil stones, as inflamed or swollen tonsils are especially prone to the accumulation of debris and microorganisms. Once this accumulated material calcifies, small and hard tonsil stones are evident across the surface of the tonsils.
Illnesses involving persistent postnasal drip are also associated with tonsil-stone formation. Postnasal drip involves the improper drainage of mucus from the nose and throat, which can lead to excess mucus in the tonsillar crypts and result in the development of tonsil stones. Similarly, chronic respiratory allergies may also lead to tonsil stones, as the body’s response to allergenic particles places additional stress on your immune system. This constant strain can make your tonsils more prone to debris and infection, and therefore makes tonsil-stone formation more likely.
In order to treat your tonsil stones effectively, it is important that you seek treatment for any underlying conditions that could be contributing to these tonsillar masses. If you are experiencing tonsillitis, chronic postnasal drip, allergies, or other illnesses that may be aggravating your tonsil stones, see your family doctor. He or she can perform a physical examination of your nose, throat, and neck; based on the results of this examination, your doctor can remove any visible tonsil stones during your appointment and may suggest at-home treatments like better oral-hygiene habits.
Additionally, he or she may recommend that you visit an ear, nose, and throat specialist for further evaluation and other treatment options. If your tonsil stones persist and are problematic, your tonsils may need to be removed surgically.