Overview of The Tonsil Stones (Tonsillitis)
Tonsil Stones, medically known as Tonsillitis is a condition in which tonsils become infected. Tonsils are a pair of soft tissues, located just above the throat, behind the tongue, on both sides. behind the tongue. They help to prevent the body from infection and function as a defense mechanism. Tonsils are different in size and swelling occurs depending on the infection.
Tonsillitis (Tonsil Stones) are the result of a common infection or irritation, usually in children but can occur at any age. Its symptoms include fever, sore throat, red/swollen tonsils, coughing/ sneezing, white/yellow coating over tonsils and other.
Viral and bacterial infections are common causes of tonsillitis. In rare cases, fungi and parasites can also cause tonsillitis. Tonsillitis goes away on its own within 7-10 days. It can be caused by a virus or strep bacteria. If it is caused by a virus, it usually goes on its own. But if it is caused by strep bacteria it will require treatment consisting of antibiotics, because it can lead to serious complications if left untreated.
First signs of having an infected tonsil are mild pain and irritation of the throat. As the condition improves, you might feel following symptoms of Tonsillitis:
- A sore throat
- Strep Throat like symptoms
- Fever, chills
- Ear pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Bad breath
- Coughing/ sneezing
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach ache
- White/yellow coating over tonsils
- Red/ swollen tonsils
- Stiff neck
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muffled voice/ loss of voice
- A runny nose
Symptoms of tonsils in children may include nausea, increased irritability, abdominal pain, vomiting, etc.
Viral and bacterial infections are common causes of tonsillitis. The causes that can trigger the formation of tonsil stones include:
- Influenza virus
- Parainfluenza virus
- Herpes simplex virus
- Epstein Barr virus
- Group-A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus (GABHS) bacteria/strep bacteria
GABHS bacteria are one of the most common bacteria that cause tonsillitis and form tonsil stones. Sometimes it can also be caused due to fungi and parasites, but it is very rare. Some other causes of tonsils are tonsil stones, common cold, enlarged tonsils, etc.
- Always cover your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing, and teach the same to your children.
- Avoid contact with individuals who are sick.
- Get enough rest
- Quit smoking
- Gargle with warm salt water
- Increase your intake of soups and other warm liquids.
- Consume more foods that are probiotic rich.
- Wash your hands at regular intervals
- Keep your children away from the other children’s suffering from tonsillitis or a sore throat.
- Always carry hand sanitizer and disposable wipes.
- Always teach your children importance of hand washing.
- Use a humidifier in your room, it will help your throat to prevent dryness.
Salt water gargle
It is one of the most common remedies for the treatment of tonsils. Antiseptic properties of salt help to treat the infection. The warm water breaks down the mucus and breathing becomes easier.
- Add 1 tsp of salt to a cup of warm water.
- Use this solution to gargle, spit it out after gargling, don’t swallow.
- You can do this multiple times in a day for best results.
Ginger has antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is very helpful in curing tonsillitis, as it is proved that fresh ginger exhibit antiviral activities.
- Put a piece of ginger root to a cup of boiling water; let it boil for few minutes. Strain it, let it cool down a bit and mix 1 tsp of honey in it. Drink this tea once or twice daily.
Lemon is a rich source of Vitamin C which improves body resistance to infections. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties which help to relieve the pain and inflammation; and it also helpful against infections.
- Take a slice of lemon, sprinkle some salt and pepper on it. Heat it little and then suck out all the juice. Do this twice or thrice daily for few days.
- Add juice of 1 lemon, a pinch of salt and 1 tsp of honey to a glass of lukewarm water. Drink it twice daily for better results.
Treatment of tonsillitis depends on its causes. Also, it will depend on the size and severity of tonsil stones too. It can be caused by a virus or strep bacteria. If it is caused by a virus, it usually goes on its own. But if it is caused by strep bacteria it will require treatment consisting of antibiotics. Natural treatments such as warm salt water gargle, avoiding smoke, drinking warm beverages, throat sprays and lozenges, slippery elm, etc are very helpful in treatment of tonsillitis
For Tonsillitis caused by virus
Tonsillitis caused by a virus such as influenza virus, parainfluenza virus, enterovirus, etc will usually go away on its own. Antibiotics are not effective in this case and your body will fight this infection on its own. Home treatments such as get enough rest, warm water gargle, eating smooth foods, drinking warm liquids, humidifier in your room and over the counter medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen are very helpful to relieve the discomfort of tonsillitis caused by the virus.
For Tonsillitis caused by bacteria
Antibiotics: Antibiotics are prescribed for the treatment of tonsillitis caused by strep bacteria. In some cases, it goes away on its own but antibiotics are recommended to treat it fully. Untreated bacterial infections can cause serious complications. That’s why it is important for you to complete the full course of antibiotics. Take antibiotics in same dose and usage frequency as prescribed by your doctor. Your symptoms may improve with 2-3 days of starting the antibiotics, but it is necessary to complete the full course to make sure the bacteria are gone.
Surgery: Surgical removal of tonsils is known as tonsillectomy. In few cases of tonsils such as too large tonsil or repeatedly infected tonsil, surgery to remove them may be necessary. Tonsillectomy was a very common procedure, particularly for children. But nowadays it is not done often as it was in the past. Tonsillectomy is recommended for the treatment in the severe case in which other treatment doesn’t respond or in the case of chronic tonsillitis. The risks and benefits of surgery need to be weighed carefully in each and every case.
Tonsillitis or Tonsil Stones can be an unpleasant situation. It’s not a serious condition and rarely becomes critical. However, the pain and breath odor can be difficult to tolerate.
The condition can be fairly painful for younger children. If you suffer from tonsil stones and other throat related problems regularly – you should step up on your Oral hygiene routine. Wash your mouth after every meal and brush twice every day. Use an antibacterial mouthwash.
If the symptoms are severe, you should consult a doctor. He might prescribe painkillers and other medicines depending on the symptoms.
When should I see a doctor?
Consult a doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Muscle weakness
- Swollen tonsils
- Severe pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Neck stiffness
- High Fever
- White/yellow coating over tonsils
- Abdominal pain