What are Tonsils?

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Tonsils are gland-like structures located in the back of your throat and are a part of the body’s first line of defense—our immune system. They “sample” bacteria and viruses that enter the body through the mouth or nose at the risk of their own infection. But at times, they can become more of a liability than an asset and may even trigger airway obstruction or repeated bacterial infections.

One tonsil is located in each pocket on each side of your mouth, they are made of tissue that contains lymphocytes, which are cells that fight infection. They function like nets, trapping incoming bacteria and virus particles that pass through the throat.

Although some medical experts believe they play a crucial role in warding off infections, often they don’t perform their function well. In many cases, they become more of a medical hindrance than a help. When tonsils become swollen and infected, they may obstruct the airway or interfere with swallowing.

It may be that tonsils evolved in an environment where humans were not exposed to as many germs as we encounter today as a result of living in areas with relatively high populations.

What Exactly is Tonsil Stones?

A tonsil stone, sometimes referred to as a tonsillolith, tonsillar debris or calculus of the tonsil, is a piece or a cluster of calcareous matter that develops in the back of the mouth in the tonsillar crypts of the tonsils or on the roof of the mouth.

Tonsils are filled with crevices where bacteria and other materials such as dead cells and mucous can become trapped. When this occurs, the debris can develop into infections that occur in the pockets.

Tonsil stones are formed when this trapped debris combines and hardens or calcifies. This occurs most often in people who suffer from chronic inflammation in their tonsils or repeated bouts of tonsillitis. These calculi are composed of calcium salts such as hydroxyapatite, calcium carbonate apatite, oxalates and other magnesium salts containing ammonium radicals.

They often appear as white or yellowish in color and are irregularly shaped and foul smelling. They can cause extreme halitosis or bad breath. Most sufferers who go to their doctor are concerned with the symptoms of bad breath.

Symptoms of Tonsil Stones

Tonsil stones do not do much physical harm, but their symptoms can be quite disheartening and unpleasant. The symptoms include:

  • Sporadic coughing
  • Halitosis or bad breath
  • White debris
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • Tonsil swelling

As previously mentioned, the symptoms of tonsil stones are not life threatening and do not inflict physical harm. They do however, make you restless and overly self-conscience.

Nobody wants to cough frequently, which embarrasses you in society. Sometimes they are the main cause of your bad breath.

Removing Tonsil Stones

Tonsil stones were not understood properly in earlier days. Most of the doctors suggested antibiotics and tonsillectomy in case the antibiotics did not work. Actually, surgically removing your tonsils is not the most prudent solution for removing as well as preventing tonsil stones.

Sometimes, basic tonsil stones removal is the best option available. The method of removing tonsil stones at home is not very expensive, and is quite easy to do, and usually gives better results.

You can use a clean fingernail to dislodge the stones, a Q-tip and even an oral irrigator in the comfort of your own home home, and the results would be more or less as effective as undergoing a costly minor surgery at a doctor’s office.

Preventing Tonsil Stones.

We are all aware that prevention is better than a cure, thus it is beneficial to adopt a preventive approach in regards to our tonsils’ health, which ultimately leads to prevention of most of our health problems. It does not need much effort to adopt preventive measures for tonsil stones.

Our body itself contains a perfect mechanism to take care of itself. A network of different organs are doing their own tasks regularly. Whenever there is any harm or danger observed, the body immediately starts giving us alarms. Many times we ignore them or try to suppress them by medication in order to get instant relief.

Essentially, the best thing that you can do is to keep your mouth healthy. The healthy environment inside your mouth automatically keeps the debris away and prevents the stones from forming in the tonsils.

Avoidance of alcohol, tobacco in any form; either by eating, snuffing or smoking, excess dairy products and of course all the junk foods is the key to keeping the health of your mouth and body at its peak. In addition, an increase in the intake of fresh green leafy vegetables, and fruits helps a lot in building a strong immune system.

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