Tonsilloliths or more popularly known as tonsil stones are small, mostly round in shape, whitish or yellowish in color, solid mass that occurs in the tonsillar tissues. Tonsilloliths is common in a person suffering from recurrent episodes of tonsillitis. Many a times you have found such people smelling very bad; most probably they are suffering from tonsilloliths. It is a very rarely reported disease, by and large diagnosed accidentally after imaging modalities (X-ray, CT scan or MRI scan) of the head and neck region.
Tonsils are a pair of fleshy tissues present over the back of the throat. They act as first line of defense against many invading organism. As bacteria or viruses are passed through them, tonsillar tissues capture the organism. Immediately, lymphocytes are released from the tonsil to neutralize the organism. Being the integral part of our immune system, lymphocyte can kill foreign proteins by releasing several immunoglobulin like Immunoglobulin G, Immunoglobulin A and Immunoglobulin M. In this process, organisms are killed along with some of the healthy tonsillar tissues. Both the dead cells are piled up in the tonsillar crypts. With the action of some mineral salts like calcium apatite and magnesium oxalate, they are solidified to form a round mass called tonsilloliths or tonsil stones. As the stone increases in size, the central part of it goes under putrefaction and some gases (hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan) are released. These gases are the source of bad breath in a patient suffering from tonsilloliths.
There are chronic sore throat, malaise, fever and other flu-like symptoms. Bad breath is common in a patient having large tonsillolith.
Regular brushing your teeth with good quality toothpaste can reduce the chance of tonsillolith formation. Fluoride present in most of the toothpastes hinders bacterial growth. Gurgling with warm saline water three times a day can reduce sore throat symptom. It will also help in reducing bacterial growth. Alternatively, you can use a mixture of powdered turmeric, black pepper and warm water. It will help you in reducing bad breath also.
Nasal sprays, drops and cough syrups are not useful in treating this disease permanently. Only symptomatic relief can be achieved. The symptoms will recur as soon as you stop medication.
Surgery to evacuate tonsillolith with or without removal of the stone is the definitive treatment in allopathic medicine. But it should be the last resort.
Recently, a 3-step Chinese herbal therapy for effective treatment of tonsillolith is getting much popularity. As this treatment method directly addresses the root cause of the disease, it results in permanent cure without any operation.