Tonsil Stones (Tonsilloliths): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment with homeopathy
Abstract: Tonsilloliths also known as tonsil stone which tend to occur more commonly with increasing age and are relatively rare in children. Tonsilloliths are rare dystrophic calcification formed as a result of chronic inflammation of the tonsils. Depending upon the symptom similarity there are many remedies in homoeopathy which are proved effective in Tonsilliolith.
Key words: Tonsilliolith, Tonsil stones, Homoeopathy, Halitosis, Bad breath
Tonsils help fight infection and the small, soft, fleshy bits of tissue sit at the back of the mouth on both sides. They can help detect and filter bacteria and viruses that enter through the mouth. Tonsils do this by producing white blood cells and antibodies.
Tonsils are covered with the same mucous membrane, or mucosa, that lines your mouth, nose and throat. It’s the crevices, or crypts, in your tonsils’ mucosa that may lead to problems.
The tiny stones (calculus) are found within little pockets (crypts) in the tonsils. These pockets typically form in chronic recurrent tonsillitis, and they harbour bacteria. Tonsilloliths are foul smelling because they tend to contain high quantities of sulphur compounds. When crushed, they give off a characteristic rotten-egg smell and can cause bad breath. Tonsilloliths may also give a person the sense that something is caught in the back of the throat.
Tonsilloliths or tonsillar concretions occur in up to 10% of the population, frequently due to episodes of tonsillitis. They commonly occur in young adults and are rare in children. Gender does not change the chance of having tonsil stones. Older people are more commonly affected.
Risk factors may include recurrent throat infections. Tonsil stones contain a biofilm composed of a number of different bacteria.
Most commonly occur in the palatine tonsils, they may also occur in the lingual tonsils, Tonsil stones have been recorded weighing from 0.3 g to 42 g.
Tonsil stones develop when bacteria and other debris get trapped in tiny crevices on the tonsils. Typically, you swallow small particles of debris, like food, dead cells, and mucus. That debris can get caught in the crevices of your tonsils, known as the crypts.
Because tonsillectomies are less common now than they once were, more people have tonsils and therefore more people are vulnerable to tonsil stones.
Signs and symptoms:
The symptoms of tonsil stones can depend on how large they are. Sometimes you may experience no symptoms at all.
People with tonsil stones are 10 times more likely to exhibit bad breath. The smell may be that of rotting eggs. Tonsil stones tend to happen most often in people with long term inflammation in their tonsils. Other symptoms include:
• Chronic sore throat
• Foreign body sensation
• Painful swallowing
• Bad taste in mouth – halitosis
• Ear pain
• Upper airway obstruction.
Occasionally there may be pain when swallowing. Even when they are large, some tonsil stones are only discovered incidentally on X-rays or CAT scans.
The condition may also be an asymptomatic condition, with detection upon palpating a hard intratonsillar or submucosal mass.
Tonsilloliths or tonsil stones are calcifications that form in the crypts of the palatal tonsils. Tonsilloliths are formed when this trapped debris accumulates and are expressed from the tonsil. They are generally soft, sometimes rubbery. They are often associated with post-nasal drip.
Much rarer than the typical tonsil stones are giant tonsilloliths. Giant tonsilloliths may often be mistaken for other oral maladies, including peritonsillar abscess, and tumours of the tonsil.
Imaging diagnostic techniques can identify a radiopaque mass that may be mistaken for foreign bodies, displaced teeth or calcified blood vessels. CT scan may reveal nonspecific calcified images in the tonsillar zone.
Differential diagnosis of tonsilloliths includes foreign body, calcified granuloma, malignancy, an enlarged temporal styloid process .
Treatment: Tips for prevention and treatment
Tonsils stones develop from food and other substances that get stuck in the tonsils. The best way to prevent them is to keep your tonsils free of debris.
Brushing your teeth and tongue thoroughly and gargling with salt water after eating to help prevent any build-up. which may help dislodge tonsil stones near the surface. Many people self-treat tonsil stones at home, removing them with a toothbrush or cotton swab. If the deposits dislodge easily, removing them yourself generally won’t present a problem.
Tonsilloliths are generally harmless — they’re just uncomfortable, and embarrassing when they cause bad breath. Several treatments are available, both at home and at the doctor’s office.
Some treatments include:
• No treatment: If you’re not experiencing any symptoms, you may not need treatment at all.
• Salt water or mouthwash: Gargling these can help dislodge your tonsil stones.
• Manual removal: You can scrape off the buildup using a toothbrush, Q-tip, or something similar.
• Antibiotics: Some doctors may prescribe antibiotics to get rid of tonsil stones.
• Surgical removal: In more severe cases, a doctor may need to surgically remove the tonsil stone. This is a simple procedure done by numbing just the area around the tonsils.
Tonsillectomy: If tonsil stones become a chronic problem, causing repeated tonsillitis, your doctor may recommend the removal of your tonsils. This generally is done as an outpatient procedure, but you may need.
• Baryta carb- Bar-c. for those liable to take cold easily, sore throat from cold, glandular disorders. There is a tendency to enlargement of the glands with indurations especially tonsils,
cervical and prostate. Takes cold easily and then always have swollen tonsils. Catarrh of
posterior sinuses with frequent nosebleeds.
• Calcarea Fluor -It works very effectively in dissolving hard, calcified tonsil stones, prickling sensation in the throat, and mucus dripping in the throat. The symptoms may get worse from taking cold drinks and get better from warm drinks. Night aggravation of the symptoms is also noted. In some cases, a burning sensation in the throat may be present.
• Merc Sol -The tonsils look swollen, red and there may be a stinging pain present. Whitish concretions are well noted on the tonsils. The pain from tonsils may seem to radiate to the ear in some cases. A sensation of something sticking in the throat, the presence of excessive saliva and a bad or metallic taste in the mouth may also be present.
• Phytolacca Decandra – Is a natural treatment for tonsil stones when the person experiences difficulty in swallowing. Small, yellow-white spots on the tonsils are visible. Rawness and excoriation in the throat are also present. A rough, burning, smarting sensation in the throat may also be present with the given symptoms.
• Belladonna –offers an effective natural cure for tonsil stones coupled with inflamed tonsils. The tonsils appear red, swollen and enlarged. A sensation of a lump is present in the throat along with a constant desire to swallow. Coughing spells and dryness of the throat with a constant desire to drink water is also present.
• Hepar sulphur – Is a well indicated homeopathic medicine for tonsil stones when an earache and a pain in the tonsils are present. Pain from the throat radiates to the ears. In most cases, this pain is present while swallowing. The pain is stitching in nature, and a sensation of a splinter in the throat is an important attending symptom. History of chronic tonsillitis is often present in most cases needing Hepar Sulphur.
• Lachesis- throat; painful, into ears; as of a soft body in;
choking; must loosen collar; hot lump in; pit feels swelled or sore spot back of pit.
swallowing; the wrong way; painful; returns through nose. diphtheria; laryngeal, tonsilitis. quinsy. hawks foul pellets from throat.
• Sulphur -sulphur is wonderful medicine for chronic sore throat. There is catarrhal state which goes on even to ulceration. The tonsil is enlarged and of a purplish aspect lasting for weeks and months, a general stone and painfully sensitive condition of the throat. Persons subject to quinsy, take cold easily, even the least cold precipitates an attack of tonsillitis. Especially useful in inflammation of tonsils with suppuration.
Tonsillolith is a rare condition but with prominent symptoms of tonsillar stone, halitosis, foreign body sensation, sore throat, painful swallowing , cough. All these symptoms are well managed with homeopathic remedies with more effective way with ease.
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Author: Dr Pooja Patil
Department of Psychiatry
Father muller homoeopathic medical college