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Can Tonsil Stones Cause Neck Pain

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How Do Tonsil Stones Form

What Are Tonsil Stones?

Our tonsils work as part of our overall immune system by trapping bacteria and filtering out germs. The stones occur when bits of food, bacteria, or dead skin cells get caught in the tiny crevices in your tonsils. As particles get pushed together in the tonsils, they form hard balls known as tonsil stones.

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Ear Nose & Throat Journal Publishes Research On Breakthrough Treatment For Tonsil Stones

Warrenton physician provides effective remedy for growing numbers of sufferers

Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine

The June edition of Ear, Nose & Throat Journal will include an article on a revolutionary new treatment that has been developed to treat tonsil stones, also known as tonsilloliths. Up until now, there has been no good treatment other than a tonsillectomy to get rid of tonsil stones for good. And, in some patients, tonsillectomy can lead to excess bleeding and complications.

Christopher Y. Chang, M.D., with Fauquier Ear Nose & Throat Consultants in Warrenton, Virginia and Richard Thrasher, M.D., with The Ear Nose & Throat Centers of Texas in McKinney, Texas, came up with a novel and effective approach to eradicate tonsil stones. Dr. Chang is associated with Fauquier Hospital in Warrenton and has become internationally known for his expertise in throat surgeries.

The technique, known as coblation tonsil cryptolysis, is unique in that it can be performed in most adult patients without sedation and using only local anesthesia, much like laser tonsil cryptolysis. As with laser cryptolysis, pain is significant for only a few days and most adults resume a normal diet and activity within one week. This is unlike tonsillectomy, which entails a recovery of several weeks. However, coblation avoids the potential risks associated with laser use, including potential airway fire, retinal damage, oral and facial burns, as well as high equipment costs.

Tonsil Stones And Tonsillitis: How To Tell The Difference

Tonsils were once removed through routine procedures. This is no longer the case today. Doctors no longer recommend that their colleagues remove healthy tonsils. However, researchers still agree that tonsils are among the most frustrating internal organs to deal with for most people.

It may not be reasonable to perform surgery on them right away, but people who have chronic and repeated tonsillitis infections might be better off with the surgery in the long run.

Tonsils essentially trap bacteria and viruses as they enter the human throat, thus preventing them from reaching the body. The tissue of tonsils contains lymphocytes, which partly enables tonsils to do their job.

However, people develop problems with their tonsils far more regularly than they do with many other parts of the body. These structures might trap bacteria and viruses sometimes, but they can just as easily become infected with the very viruses and bacteria that they are trying to trap in the first place.

It is possible that tonsils are just not equipped to deal with the levels of bacteria that people will encounter on a regular basis today. People in cities are going to deal with more bacterial infections than people in rural areas in many cases, although people in rural areas increasingly deal with them as well.

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Treatment For Recurring Tonsil Stones

For frequent tonsil stone flare-ups, your doctor may prescribe medications such as:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs: Over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, may help reduce tonsil swelling and make tonsil stones easier to remove. They can also improve discomfort and difficulty swallowing.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics can wipe out bacteria in your gut, where most of your immune system lives, to reduce the symptoms of a severe tonsil stone flare-up. However, this isnt a long-term option and should be used infrequently, due to the risk of antibiotic resistance.

Surgical treatments for recurring tonsil stones include:

Because they are associated with some risks, surgical options are typically used only if tonsil stones significantly disrupt your life. Surgery for tonsil stones is controversial and should be used as a last resort after other options have been exhausted.

Other Conditions Affecting The Tonsils

Home Remedies for Swollen Tonsils

A number of other conditions can cause pain in or near the tonsils. A doctor can help determine what causes tonsil stones.

Other conditions that can mimic the symptoms of tonsil stones include:

  • Tonsillitis: If the tonsils are red and swollen and it is difficult to swallow, there may be an infection in the tonsils. Tonsillitis is often accompanied by a fever.
  • Strep throat: This is one type of tonsillitis that can cause intense pain in the throat or at the back of the mouth. Like tonsillitis, strep throat often causes a fever.
  • Gum disease and tooth decay: Pain in the teeth and gums can radiate to the jaw, ear, or even the throat. Untreated infections in the teeth and gums can spread throughout the mouth, and even to other areas of the body.
  • Tonsil cancer: Tonsil cancer, also known as tonsil lymphoma, can cause a sore in the back of the mouth that does not heal. Other symptoms include pain in the ears and throat, difficulty swallowing, and blood in the mouth.

An otolaryngologist, commonly known as an ear, nose, and throat doctor, can treat most tonsil and throat conditions.

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Tonsil Stone Removal At Home

Particularly if they make you uncomfortable, you may want to get rid of tonsil stones at home.

Proceed with caution. Tonsil stone removal can be simple and easy. Unfortunately, some home remedies used to remove tonsil stones are not safe .

To remove tonsil stones at home, try the following home remedies:

  • Vigorously gargle with warm salt water
  • Use an oral irrigator to gently spray water to dislodge the calcified stone
  • Very gently nudge tonsil stones with a cotton swab 
  • Make yourself cough

Common Symptoms Associated With Tonsil Stones

Tonsil stones symptoms are not pleasant and actually caused me a lot of grief for three years. I highly suggest that you dont ignore tonsil stones or its symptoms, because, in my experience, the symptoms get worst and more severe over time. For me, my tonsil stones got bigger over time, and consequently my breath got extremely bad.

Lets look at some of the common symptoms of tonsil stones so that you can identify whether or not you have them.

One of the more noticeable tonsil stones symptoms is a white debris buildup in the tonsil area. The colors of these tiny particles range from milky white to yellowish hues. They are usually found at the back portion of the throat, and would be visible when the patient opens his or her mouth. However, in some cases, there are tonsil stones that stay hidden in the inner sacs of the tonsils, so it would be more difficult to spot them.

The frequent irritation of the throat and the coughing can cause fatigue. It is not unusual for a person with tonsil stones to be tired all the time because of the irritating sensations he or she is feeling.

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What Causes Tonsil Stones

Your tonsils are made up of crevices, tunnels, and pits called tonsil crypts. Different types of debris, such as dead cells, mucus, saliva, and food, can get trapped in these pockets and build up. Bacteria and fungi feed on this buildup and cause a distinct odor.

Over time, the debris hardens into a tonsil stone. Some people may have only one tonsil stone, while others have many smaller formations.

Potential causes of tonsil stones include:

Most tonsilloliths are harmless, but many people want to remove them because they can smell bad or cause discomfort. Treatments range from home remedies to medical procedures.

Youre Fighting A Virus

What are Tonsils? How to Cure Tonsil Stones | ENT Doctor in Gurgaon

Viral tonsil infections are very common, says Clare Morrison, MD, general practitioner and medical advisor at MedExpress. There are several different strains of virus that can affect the tonsils and trigger swellinginfluenza, adenovirus, Epstein-Barr , herpes simplexand they tend to go hand-in-hand with cold symptoms. Think: fever, headache, runny nose, sore throat.

When tonsillitis is caused by a virus, itll usually go away once your bodys fought off the infection . While your bodys in battle mode, the best thing you can do is soothe your throat with plenty of fluids, salt water gargles, and the occasional acetaminophen or ibuprofen tablet.

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Sometimes Tonsillitis Can Cause White Spots To Appear On The Tonsils

If you look at someones tonsils closely, they will have these little crypts in them. What can build up is old dead skin and bacteria, explains James Clark, MBBCh, an instructor of otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. When food, bacteria, or other debris get trapped in the crevices, they harden and calcify into tonsil stones.

You can get tonsil stones without having tonsillitis in fact, many people get tonsil stones very frequently. And usually tonsil stones are harmless, but in some rare cases, they can cause tonsillitis. And thats why you may notice those white spots and patches if you have tonsillitis.

You can have tonsillitis without actually having the presence of the stones and vice versa, Dr. Clark says. Sometimes the retained food and debris lead to chronic halitosis , he adds. The stones typically fall out by themselves, though some people scrape them out using a cotton swab, Clark says.

RELATED: How to Safely Get Rid of Tonsil Stones

When a person has a tonsil infection and there are stones, the stones are more likely to secrete pus, since that is part of the result of the tonsils swelling, according to Clark. Youll get an accumulation of the dead immune cells that participated in fighting the infection, he says.

How To Get Rid Of Tonsil Stones That Keep Recurring

If Tonsil Stones keep coming back, Tonsil Stone removal may require removing the tonsils. Complete removal of the tonsils is done with the help of Tonsillectomy. This operation removes the tonsil tissues which eliminates chances of tonsil stone formation in the throat. An individual is completely cured of Tonsil Stones post Tonsillectomy. Tonsil Stones removal becomes permanent after this operation.

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Tonsil Stones Neck Pain

I haven’t got any advice but I seem to be suffering more with tonsil stones. I’ve just had two larger stones come out and have had a pain in my neck, in and around the left tonsil, also my left ear and generally feeling unwell. Had this exact same thing in October except the pain was much worse and coincided with 4 stones coming out from both tonsils, so I do think there is a connection to being unwell with them and pain. I can get them in bouts, worse when I’ve had a cold.

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Tonsil Stones May Be More Common Than We Think

Spontaneous Laryngitis Fainting Throat Headache Sore ...

The data documenting how many people are affected by tonsil stones is scant, partly because many may not realize they have the condition. Sometimes people with tonsil stones never experience symptoms, and in many cases tonsil stones arent a serious medical illness, which means researchers are less likely to study the condition, says Thatcher.

But there have been some recent studies that suggest that tonsil stones are much more common than previously thought.

For example, a South Korean study published in the June 2018 issue of the journal Oral Surgery Oral Medicine Oral Pathology Oral Radiology found that of the 3,886 CT images obtained at Seoul National University Dental Hospital from January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2012, as many as 30 percent of patients were found to have tonsilloliths. 30050-6/fulltext” rel=”nofollow”>4)

Another study published in the July 2013 issue of the journal Dentomaxillofacial Radiology that analyzed 150 CT scans from the Head and Neck Department of the University Hospital of Montpellier, France, found that tonsil stones were present in as many as a quarter of the scans.  The researchers note that the rates may be higher in the general population .

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Which Types Of Doctors Treat Tonsillitis And Adenoid Infections

A primary care provider such as a family practitioner, an internist, or a child’s pediatrician may diagnose and treat simple tonsillitis and adenoid infections. If your tonsillitis is severe enough that you go to an emergency department, you will be seen by an emergency medicine specialist. If infections are severe, chronic, or recurrent, you may be referred to an otolaryngologist, also called an ear-nose-throat specialist for further follow-up treatment or surgical removal of the tonsils and/or adenoids.

How To Remove Deep Tonsil Stones Stuck In Throat

Good thing about treating tonsil stones, is that they almost never require surgery. If necessary, then one could be indicated in which the stones are removed or the tonsil itself is removed.

This is especially when there are large calculi lodged near the ear, nose and the throat leading to other ENT complications.  Here are some methods that are used to remove tonsil stones but not at home:

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What Causes Tonsil Cancer

Men are diagnosed with tonsil cancer three to four times more often than women. People are generally diagnosed at age 50 or older, but it can develop at any age. The most significant risk factors for tonsil cancers are tobacco and alcohol use, including smokeless tobacco .Other potential causes include people with certain infections or decreased immunity, such as:

  • Exposure to the human papilloma virus, especially strains 16 and 18.
  • Organ transplant recipients
  • People with human immunodeficiency virus disease

There are no accepted general risk factors or causes for lymphoma.

About Ear Nose And Throat

Huge Tonsil Stones Removal in a case of Chronic Tonsillitis & Allergic Rhino Sinusitis

Ear, Nose, and Throat Services at UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside ranks among the best nationally on U.S. News & World Reports listings. Our team includes board-certified physicians and highly skilled speech-language pathologists and audiologists. We treat a variety of ear, nose, and throat conditions in both children and adults and provide both surgical and non-surgical options. Our doctors also take part in research and clinical trials. We have locations throughout western Pennsylvania for patient convenience.


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The Location Of The Tonsils

Since tonsillitis occurs most often in children, its good for parents to know where the tonsils are, since there are often visible signs of infection. Theres one tonsil on each side of the throat, both left and right of the uvula, the flesh that dangles down in the middle of the throat. 

Healthy tonsils are pink, the same color as the rest of the flesh in the throat area.

Sometimes Home Remedies Can Get Rid Of Tonsil Stones

Unless you are positive you have tonsil stones , its always important to obtain a doctors opinion. However, your doctor may even mention that some home remedies do wonders to get rid of tonsil stones. Tonsil stones may break apart on their own after a few bouts of strenuous gargling with saltwater. Doctors and patients have also recommended home remedies for tonsillolith such as:

  • Garlic. Simply ingesting garlic can help dissipate tonsil stones, as it is a natural antifungal and antibacterial.
  • Apple cider vinegar. While saltwater is your best bet for dislodging the stone, some patients have had similar luck with gargling apple cider vinegar.
  • Using a water flosser. This is also known as a water irrigator. However, because this offers more intimate contact with the stone and the tonsil, this is a method that your doctor should approve for you first. In other words, consult your doctor before you try this more invasive method.
  • Essential oils. Some patients have had luck with oils such as lemongrass. Using this method, you would put two droplets on a toothbrush and lightly brush the stones. Again, consult with your doctor before trying this .
  • Eating yogurt. Yogurt is a natural probiotic that can help dislodge a tonsil stone.
  • Carrots and onions. Similarly to garlic, these superfoods have antibacterial properties that can help keep your mouth clean and free of stones.

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What To Do About Cryptic Tonsils

Tonsillar crypts are pockets or folds that occur naturally in the tonsils. The average adult tonsil has anywhere from 10 to 20 crypts. Crypts in the tonsils are usually small and debris free. The tonsil crypts would appear as lines in the tonsils where two edges of the folds meet.

Should You Have Your Tonsils Removed

Does tonsillitis cause ear pain

These days, its not as common for tonsils to be removed. Removal will only be considered if there are frequent bouts of pustular tonsillitis that require antibioticssay, five or more attacks in one year, says Dr. Morrison, especially if the infections dont get better with treatment or theyre getting in the way of daily activities. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist, who will ultimately make the final decision regarding surgery.

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Tonsil Stones Symptoms + 9 Natural Treatments

By Annie Price, CHHC

Even if youve never heard of tonsil stones, its not unlikely that youve had them before without knowing it or that you even have them at this very moment. Its true, tonsil stones are extremely common. How do you get tonsil stones? What is a tonsil stone? Anyone with tonsils can get tonsil stones. Simply put, a tonsil stone is a build up of debris that gets lodged in the tonsil and becomes hard. Some experts say they are kind of like acne of the tonsils.

Tonsil stones are typically harmless, but they can sometimes cause discomfort. They can also cause some really unwanted symptoms like bad breath. At least one scientific study has revealed that these stones are actually quite similar to the dental plaque responsible for cavities and gum disease. Left to their own devices, tonsil stone can continue to grow larger and are a haven for bacteria. So, while tonsil stones may not be dangerous, theyre not desirable either. Sometimes, they can be a sign of poor oral hygiene.

I Have Tmj And Pain Behind My Tonsil Could The Tonsil Be Infected Or Could This Pain B Coming From Tmj It Is Very Sore When I Push Above Tonsil

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How Is Tonsil Cancer Diagnosed

A doctor will examine the inside of your mouth and back of your throat to check the location and size of the tumor. Examination of the ears, nose, throat and neck are needed to help determine if the tumor has spread.

The doctor may also order tests including:

  • Blood tests.
  • X-rays to determine if the tumor has spread to the lung.
  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy. A thin needle is placed in the mouth. The cells are aspirated and then examined under a microscope to determine if the lump is cancerous.
  • Imaging studies to determine if the tumor has invaded nearby tissues or other organs of the body. These may include:
  • Orthopantomography . This is a panoramic X-ray of the upper and lower jaw. It shows a view from ear-to-ear and helps determine if a tumor has grown into the jaw bone.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging.
  • Positron emission tomography scan. During a PET scan, a small amount of radioactive glucose is injected into a vein. The scanner creates computerized pictures of the areas inside the body. Cancer cells absorb more radioactive glucose than normal cells so the tumor is highlighted on the pictures.

Can Tonsil Stones Be Prevented

Causes & treatment of Tonsil infections | Dr. Deepanshu Gurnani

There are certain things you can do to prevent tonsil stones from developing in the first place or coming back once they get removed. Some of these things include:

  • Removing bacteria that builds up at the back of your tongue once you get done brushing your teeth. The best way to do this is to utilize a tongue scraper each night before you go to bed each night.
  • Brush your teeth regularly so that you can get rid of food debris that get trapped in between your teeth. Brush your teeth and tongue at least 2 times everyday.
  • Combine 1 tablespoons of salt and 1 cup of water and gargle it. Gargling salt water will help disinfect your mouth and help remove bacteria that could cause tonsil stones. Do this a few times everyday.
  • Increasing your water intake is a good way to prevent this problem as it will help keep your mouth moisturized. Stay away from sugared drinks likes sodas and a diet high in simple sugars because they are known to contribute to the development of tonsil stones.
  • Try to stop smoking and drinking alcohol as much. Drinks with alcohol in it can leave your mouth dry which isnt good if you often experience tonsil stones. Smoking wont help your situation either.

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Strep Throat Is Lurking

Though its not as common in adults, strep throat is a bacterial infection that can cause swollen tonsils and inflammation, says Dr. Zalvan. Besides difficulty swallowing, you might also experience bad breath and have trouble opening your mouth.

Left untreated, bacterial tonsillitis can lead to a more complicated infection that causes pus to collect around the capsule of the tonsil. This infection may require intravenous antibiotics and a drainage procedure to remove the abscess, says Brad DeSilva, MD, otolaryngologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Because strep is sometimes associated with sinusitis, ear infections, and pneumonia, it can be hard to tell if your swollen tonsils are the victim of a viral or bacterial infection. If symptoms persist, Dr. DeSilva recommends having your doc run a rapid strep test to determine if antibiotics are needed.

How To Prevent Tonsil Stones

The most effective way to prevent tonsil stones is to maintain a healthy oral microbiome through a healthy diet, good oral hygiene, and addressing dry mouth.

There are several ways to prevent tonsil stones:

  • Brush your teeth twice each day and 45 minutes after eating any sugary, acidic, or processed foods/drinks
  • Use a remineralizing toothpaste like Boka or RiseWell
  • Address chronic tonsillitis or sinus infections with your ENT and/or primary care doctor

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What Are The Signs Of Tonsil Stones

Many people who have tonsil stones have no symptoms. Luckily, if theyre not bothering you, there is likely nothing you need to do about them.

If you do have symptoms, though, you may experience redness and irritation in your tonsils, infections such as tonsillitis, a sore throat , or pain when swallowing. Tonsil stones cause also cause bad breath. Thats because of the bacteria that grow on them. Some people with tonsil stones may also report feeling pain or pressure in their ears.

Additional Symptoms In Children

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Tonsillitis can occur before your child is able to fully explain what they feel. They may seem overly fussy as with any illness, and with tonsillitis theyll probably refuse to eat, since swallowing hurts. This may also cause them to drool, since saliva can build up in their mouth without regular swallowing. 

Younger children are also more likely to complain that their tummies hurt during a tonsillitis infection.

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