Asked by Christy, Iowa
I sometimes get little white lumps in my tonsils. What's the best way to get them out?
Living Well Expert
Dr. Jennifer Shu
Children's Medical Group
Thanks for your question. It sounds like you're describing tonsillar stones (also called tonsilloliths), which are clumps of food particles, mucus, dead tissue cells and more that can collect in the crypts found on the surface of the tonsils. They may occur when you're perfectly healthy or during respiratory infections or eating certain foods that get caught in the pits of one's tonsils.
If you leave the tonsil stones alone, they may come out on their own while gargling or coughing. This may be more likely to occur when you first wake up in the morning, after they have dried up a bit and become smaller than the pits where they were lodged.
I consulted with Dr. Mark Brown, an Austin, Texas, physician who is board certified in otolaryngology, facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, and sleep medicine for more information. Brown reports that tonsillar stones are more annoying than worrisome, although they are occasionally associated with sore throats and bad breath. In extreme cases, some people may have their tonsils removed to prevent the stones from recurring.
Removing the stones through gargling or carefully using a long, thin and clean object may take care of the problem temporarily, but the stones may form again. There are also a number of stone removal "kits" available that you may wish to try. Laser treatment to smooth the surface of the tonsils may also be an option you can discuss with your physician if you find the stones to be especially bothersome.
|Most Viewed||Most Emailed|
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. All comments should be relevant to the topic and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. You are solely responsible for your own comments, the consequences of posting those comments, and the consequences of any reliance by you on the comments of others. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying and other information you provide via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.
The information contained on this page does not and is not intended to convey medical advice. CNN is not responsible for any actions or inaction on your part based on the information that is presented here. Please consult a physician or medical professional for personal medical advice or treatment.