Tonsil Stones (Tonsiloliths):Causes and Treatment


What are Tonsils ?

Tonsils are your secondary lymphoid organs. They are nothing but two lymph nodes that are located at the back of your throat. The tonsils act as a defence mechanism and aid in enhancing your immunity.  Tonsils contain a lot of white blood cells which help in fighting pathogens and prevent various infections. In addition to that, tonsils can be termed as your first line of defence as they prevent the bacteria from entering your body.

What are Tonsil Stones ?

The tonsils are made up of different tunnels and pits. The cell debris or the dead cells which accumulate while your immune system responds to any bacteria is stored in these crypts. As a result, when the bacteria enter your throat they feed on this debris. Therefore, with time the debris is calcified and tonsils stones are formed. These calcified cells give out a bad odour. in other words, the calcified debris or cells are called tonsil stones.


Some common symptoms of tonsilloliths include:

  • Bad odour: bad odour is a result of infection and a common symptom of detecting tonsil stones.
  • Ear pain: Ear pain is another common sign of the presence of tonsil stones.
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Difficulty in swallowing

Usually, tonsil stones can be diagnosed by your ENT by a physical exam. If not, a CT scan can detect tonsil stones.


Treatment of tonsilloliths depends on the severity of the tonsil stone formation. However, most of the doctors will suggest antibiotics as an effective treatment or a minor surgery if the case is severe. If the tonsils had been getting effected repeatedly, tonsillectomy (removal of tonsils) will be suggested.

People who have a history of tonsillitis are most likely to develop tonsil stones. As a result, prevention can be done by maintaining good dental hygiene, avoiding ice creams, drinking plenty of water and by gargling with warm salt water or an oral disinfectant every day.

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