For as long as I can remember, possibly 10 years back, I've coughed up these little white balls from time-to-time. They are white (they can be a yellowish color for some) and they are the most foul smelling thing I have ever experienced. I never asked a doctor, and for some reason I didn't Google it.
I didn't think anyone else had my problem. I thought I was the only one in the whole world who coughed these up. Then finally the other night I coughed up one bigger than any other I've ever had and my throat became sore. I coughed up a second one shortly after, something else that I've never done.
I pulled up Google and started typing "coughing up little w...." and Google already knew what I was trying to say. I read through a few sites and came to the conclusion of these being Tonsilloliths, or commonly known as tonsil stones.
I learned that this has only just recently been understood in the oral care community and people are often misdiagnosed. For a long time it was thought to be extra food debris. I thought that myself, or maybe even some weird hard booger. These stones form in the pockets of a person's tonsils. They are formed as small food particles, mucus and bacteria combine and calcify.
So what does it mean to have tonsil stones? Well, first of all they don't cause any physical harm. That was good news to me, because I was afraid it was going to be some life altering condition. These stones can also be an indication of bad breath. It is a lot more common than I had suspected and adults are at a higher risk than children.
A few tips I've read on getting rid of these stones include:
- gargling frequently with warm salt water
- limiting your dairy intake
- picking them off yourself with q-tips
- having your tonsils removed
I am going to try gargling warm salt water and limiting my dairy. Dairy encourages the buildup of mucous and calcium.
eHow has a very good article on how to take care of these stones.
I hope this provides some sort of relief to those of you who have the same problem and weren't sure of the diagnosis. For those of you who haven't experienced these, I hope you have gained some knowledge in case you develop them or know of someone who does. I wish I would have known this information sooner. You can find more information about this all over the Internet, but here are a few sites from where my information came.