Can Tonsil Stones Cause Infection
Are you struggling with bad breath and wonder if tonsil stones might be the cause? Are you worried that the pain you feel in your mouth is from your tonsils? Do you maybe think that your tonsil are infected because of those yellow things on them?
In this article, well be taking a look at these questions and several more as we find out everything we need to know about tonsils, tonsil stones, and infection.
Ready? Lets get started.
Distinct Odor Coming From Your Mouth
The odor caused by tonsil stones is pungent. It smells like that of a rotten tooth or any other type of decay. According to the National Library of Medicine, you might be able to taste the infection and bacteria amongst the saliva in your mouth. Remember, if there is an infection present, youre swallowing and putting all those germs into your stomach, so this needs to be taken care of immediately.
Other Causes Of Sinus Infections
Having a sinus infection doesnt necessarily mean that your tonsils are causing the issues. A variety of other factors can contribute to the development of an infection:
- Bacterial infection
- Nasal polyps
- Tooth infections
Often, sinus issues are secondary infections after a person has a head cold or allergies. The other health issues increase mucus production and cause inflammation in the nasal passages. As the flow of mucus slows down and the bacteria gets trapped, the risk of sinus infection increases.
Acute sinusitis means that the symptoms are short-term, usually caused by a cold. Chronic sinus infections might be linked with tonsil issues, with symptoms that last more than 12 weeks or multiple sinus infections per year.
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Could Tonsillitis Be A Sign Of Cancer
While there is no link between tonsillitis and cancer, sometimes they may have similar symptoms. If an adult comes in complaining of tonsillitis that doesnt seem to go away or has a chronic sore throat, those symptoms may be a sign of something more serious, such as cancer.
Adults dont commonly get tonsillitis, so there is a concern that when it does appear, the symptoms may actually be something else masquerading as tonsillitis, says Nicholas Rowan, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology at John Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.
If a middle-aged man comes in complaining of tonsillitis or reoccurring tonsillitis, I want to be certain that their symptoms improve to ensure that he doesnt have an underlying problem, such as throat or tonsil cancer, says Dr. Rowan adding that in general the symptoms do not end up being cancer.
But he says that even if the chances are small, it is important to rule out those more serious complications if tonsillitis symptoms do not go away or the infections appears to keep recurring.
Ear Pain On Airplanes
Ear pain during flying could indicate several different conditions, some more serious than others. If you are a frequent flyer, you have probably experienced some type of ear pain, discomfort, or fullness during your travels. Sometimes, these sensations are harmless and are the result of a cold or sinus infection. However, in other cases, they could indicate middle ear dysfunction or underlying inner ear disorders. Keep reading for detailed synopses of what your symptoms could mean.
- Thick nasal discharge that is yellow or green
- Elevated temperature
Flying with a sinus infection can cause more pressure and pain within the middle ear and facial bones that make up the sinuses. This is exacerbated during ascent and descent, during which the change in altitude is extremely rapid.
- A feeling of fullness or stuffiness
- Muffled sounds
- Popping, clicking, or itching sensation
- Pain in one or both ears
- Ringing in the ears
- Trouble keeping balance
Usually, ETD ear pain comes and goes. However, flying can be painful and cause heightened lingering symptoms for a few days post-flight. The eustachian tubes can become even more clogged or shut due to the lack of equalized air pressure, and it can be painful to repressurize with swallowing and yawning.
- Moderate to severe discomfort or pain in the ear
- A feeling of fullness or stuffiness
- Muffled hearing or slight to moderate hearing loss
- Severe ear pressure
- Vomiting from vertigo
- Bleeding from the ear
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Things That Cause Tonsil Stones
If you were to hear someone talk about stones in the body, your mind would automatically wander to the kidneys. However, the kidney isnt the only area in your system where a nagging stone can develop. Tonsil stones are quite common, and they dont present near the danger of the other variety.
The medical term for these unsightly rocks is tonsilloliths, according to the National Library of Medicine. They are located on or near the tonsils in the throat, and they have a white or yellowish color about them. They get the term stone because they are hard as a rock. What causes these little pebbles to form in the tonsil area?
The size of the tonsil stone can vary greatly. Some people have stones, no bigger than a kernel of corn, while others might fight some that are as large as a cherry tomato. Thankfully, theyre not known to cause any significant health problems, but they are known for their pungent odor.
In the rare event that these stones become more extensive, they can make the entire area inflamed. When the tonsils swell, it can impede the airway, though this is a worst-case scenario. Most people dont even need to seek medical treatment for them as they use home remedies to take care of the problem.
How Do I Take Care Of Myself If I Have Tonsil Stones
If you have tonsil stones, these at-home remedies can help:
- A warm saltwater gargle helps with swelling and discomfort. Gargling can even help dislodge the stone. Try a gargle of 1 teaspoon salt mixed with 8 ounces of water.
- Use a cotton swab to remove a tonsil stone thats bothering you.
- Brush and floss regularly.
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When Tonsil Stones Are A Nuisance
Q: I occasionally get something that looks like a small pebble in my throat, which is really irritating and annoying. What can this be?
A: It is important to speak with your health care provider to verify what is causing this for you. From your description this sounds like tonsil stones , which affect up to 10% of the population or more. Some studies of CT scans done of the neck for other reasons have noted them in up to 25% of patients. They are most common in young adults. These hard white or yellow stones may form from debris, dead cells, mucus, saliva and even food particles that get trapped in the crevices of the tonsils and then harden.
Risk factors for developing tonsilloliths include crevices and crypts in the tonsils where they can form , larger tonsils, sinus or tonsil inflammation and possibly inadequate dental and/or oral hygiene.
Most tonsilloliths cause no symptoms, and patients either do not realize they have them or they see them in their throat even though they are not causing symptoms. When they do cause symptoms these may include bad breath, sore/uncomfortable throat, soreness with swallowing, ear pain , cough , swollen tonsils and other symptoms.
Tonsilloliths are diagnosed from history and confirmed simply by visual inspection by your health care provider. In rare cases, especially if there is suspicion of a complication such as an abscess, an imaging exam may be indicated.
Tonsillitis Can Cause Quinsy Or Peritonsillar Abscess
If strep throat or tonsillitis does not go away , either type of infection can progress into an infection called tonsillar cellulitis. Tonsillar cellulitis can in some cases cause pus to accumulate around the tonsils, which is called peritonsillar abscess. This abscess in the space behind the tonsil can cause compression of the airway, which is very painful, Clark explains.
Symptoms of peritonsillar abscess include fever, throat pain, and even lockjaw. Its typically associated with just one side, so we look for asymmetry, explains Clark. When this occurs, we have to drain it to help relieve the infection, he adds.
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Is Loud Persistent Snoring Normal
Snoring that interferes with a persons sleep is not normal and should be addressed. When left untreated, excessive snoring can cause daytime sleepiness, stress, poor concentration, and depression. It also can increase a persons risk of accidents, high blood pressure, and heart problems. Snoring that intermittently stops your breathing can cause serious health problems. There are no medications to treat excessive snoring however, certain lifestyle changes can help improve the problem. They include but are not limited to:
- Keeping physically fit and maintaining a healthy weight
- Not smoking
- Sleeping on your front or side, with your head slightly raised
- Avoiding alcohol, sedatives
- Managing allergies or sinus problems
If you or your partners snoring is causing you to wake when you sleep, ask your ear, nose, and throat specialist to examine you and discuss ways to improve or resolve the problem.
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Is It Time To Talk To An Ent
While a general practitioner can offer recommendations about sinus treatments, it is best to visit with a specialist if you want an accurate diagnosis. An ENT has unique knowledge and experience working with the tonsils, sinuses, nasal passages, and ears. This skill set can be paired with specialized diagnostics and testing to determine an accurate diagnosis.
For example, the most common recommendation for a sinus infection treatment is to use an antibiotic that will eliminate the bacteria. While this treatment is an immediate solution for a short-term problem, it doesnt take into account how other parts of the upper respiratory system could be contributing to recurring problems.
An ENT can take a closer look to see if your tonsils are contributing to the sinus issues. Then, a personalized treatment plan is designed to provide optimal long-term results.
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How To Get Rid Of Tonsil Stones: Treatment And Removal
Tonsilloliths are generally harmless theyre just uncomfortable and embarrassing when they cause bad breath. Several treatments are available for tonsil stone removal, both at home and at the doctors office.
Most people wont need medical treatment for tonsil stones, Dr. Johnson says. But if they do, we now have several options for effective treatment.
Some treatments include:
How Are Tonsil Stones Diagnosed
To diagnose tonsil stones, your provider may:
- Do a physical exam, looking inside your mouth and throat.
- Perform an imaging scan if they cannot see the stones easily.
- Dislodge the stones using a dental pick.
Sometimes, a healthcare provider happens to notice tonsil stones during an exam. If you dont have any symptoms, your provider might notice a stone during a scan or X-ray for a different problem. Or your dentist may see them during a dental exam.
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Can Tonsils Cause Sinus Infections
Are you suffering from chronic sinus issues, and cant seem to find any relief from the never-ending symptoms? You might have short periods when the symptoms arent quite as intense before the infection flares up again.
Since the symptoms are affecting your nasal passages and sinuses, then you are likely focused on those specific treatments.
But there might be an overlooked factor contributing to your sinus issues: problems with the tonsils and adenoids.
What Are Tonsil Stones And What Causes Them
Tonsils stones are little white nuggets that form inside your tonsils.
They start to grow when you eat food and bacteria gets caught in the folds of your skin, and your body can produce them on its own! This stuff sticks around for a while before it turns into what I like to call tonsil rocks or throat pearls.
Eventually this sludge will turn hard enough to calcify so if you want them gone then youre going to have to be proactive!
Since food and bacteria that get caught in the folds cause tonsil stones, tonsilloliths most commonly grow in the crevices where your tonsils and adenoids meet your throat.
If your tonsils are inflamed, already infected, or swollen, its more likely youll develop tonsil stones. Thats because swollen tonsils have more wrinkles and crevices where food and bacteria can accumulate.
These tiny abscesses are usually only a couple of millimeters wide, so it can be challenging to find them. Still, one of the most noticeable symptoms of tonsil stones is the rotten-egg smell of sulfur.
So, if you have terrible, incurably bad-smelling breath that you cant get rid of through brushing, you just might have a tonsil stone.
, which is the scientific name for bad breath, is often caused by volatile sulfur compounds. Volatile sulfur compounds are foul-smelling gases released by anaerobic bacteria.
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How Are Tonsil Stones Treated
While you can manage the symptoms of tonsil stones, such as bad breath, there is no specific treatment for them. Good oral hygiene is important. This includes gargling with warm salt water and brushing your teeth regularly.
During vigorous gargling, the tonsil stones may become detached. Some people choose to dislodge them with a dental pick or swab. Be gentle if you decide to do this.
What Is The Outlook For Tonsillitis
In nearly all cases, a tonsillitis or sore throat clears away without leaving any problems. However, occasionally tonsillitis may progress to cause a complication. Also, a sore throat or tonsillitis is sometimes due to an unusual, but more serious, illness.
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What Else Should I Ask My Provider
If you have tonsil stones, ask your provider:
- How can I get rid of tonsil stones at home?
- What can I do to improve my symptoms?
- What should I do if tonsil stones come back?
- Will I need surgery?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Tonsil stones are small lumps of hardened material that form on your tonsils, in the back of your throat. They usually dont cause serious health problems. The main sign of tonsil stones is bad breath. You can usually try to get rid of tonsil stones using at-home methods, such as saltwater gargles. If home tonsil stone removal doesnt work, or the stones keep coming back, talk to your provider. If the issue is recurring infections, you may need a tonsillectomy to remove your tonsils.
What Are The Symptoms Of Tonsil And Adenoid Difficulty
Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils. Symptoms may include:
- Swelling of the tonsils
- A white or yellow coating on the tonsils
- A slight change in the voice due to swelling
- Sore throat sometimes accompanied by ear pain
- Uncomfortable or painful swallowing
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Bad breath
If your or your childs tonsils or adenoids are enlarged, it may be hard to breathe through the nose, or cause difficulty while sleeping. Other signs of adenoid and/or tonsil enlargement include:
- Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose most of the time
- Nose sounds blocked when the person speaks
- Chronic runny nose
- Noisy breathing during the day
- Recurrent ear infections
- Snoring at night
- Restlessness during sleep, or pauses in breathing for a few seconds at night
You should see your ENT specialist, or otolaryngologist, when you or your child experience the common symptoms of infected or enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
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Bacteria Viruses And Tonsillitis
When tonsillitis is caused by bacteria , it is usually a streptococcus bacterium. It is not easy to tell when tonsillitis is caused by bacteria your doctor may do a throat swab and send it for testing.There are many viruses that can cause tonsillitis. Antibiotics do not help if the tonsillitis is caused by a viral infection.
Tonsillitis Can Spread And Become An Ear Infection
Another complication is that a tonsil infection can develop into a secondary infection of the middle ear. The tonsils that are visible behind your tongue when you open your mouth are just one part of a bigger collection of lymphoid tissue known as the Waldeyers tonsillar ring , Clark explains. When we get an episode of tonsillitis, all this tissue increases in size, he explains.
The middle ear is a sealed cavity with only one opening, called the Eustachian tube. The adenoid tissue, or the highest part of your tonsils is located in the back of the nose and is next to the Eustachian tube.
When the adenoid tissue becomes swollen from an infection it can block the Eustachian tube and result in pressure buildup in the ear. This can cause an effusion in the ear, which can then get infected, Clark explains.
Tonsil Stones Symptoms + 9 Natural Treatments
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.