I am currently doing a project for my anatomy class on tonsilloliths and I was wondering if i could ask you some questions about it. If you are able to answer these questions, it would be greatly appreciated since I need an expert contact. My questions are listed below. Thank you very much and I hope to hear from you soon.
Q: What are some symptoms of tonsilloliths?
Just so everyone is on the same page, tonsilloliths are also known as TONSIL STONES. Symptoms include:
A recurring foreign body sensation in the throat which is relieved when the stone is expressed (removed, that is).
The stone itself is the most common symptom. Folks with this problem have figured out ways to pick out the stone. It's not a stone, by the way; it's a ball of dead squamous epithelial cells, combined with bacteria and bacterial waste products -- hence the foul smell.
Q: What is a possible cause?
We see this most commonly as a symptom of chronic tonsillitis. Chronic tonsillitis is a condition in which the tonsils stay inflamed despite recurrent treatment with oral antibiotics. The sore throat is typically not as severe as it is in acute tonsillitis, but it is (as the name would suggest) far more stubborn.
On a more mechanistic level, you may be asking how these things are formed. Do a bit of reading on tonsil anatomy, and you'll learn about tonsillar crypts (yes, as in 'where dead things are buried'). These are epithelium-lined invaginations which seem to be a good deal deeper in patients with chronic tonsillitis. As you know, epithelium is in a constant state of turnover: we make new skin, oral lining, and digestive tract lining on a continuous basis.
My hunch: when the crypts become too deep, the sloughed epithelium has a hard time getting out. It builds up until it becomes macroscopic and so bothersome that the host pushes it out by one means or another.
Q: Is there any way to prevent the formation of tonsil stones?
I have had limited success -- very limited success -- treating this condition with antibiotics. Some folks use a specially designed water pik device to blast out the stones, but that's not a preventive treatment.
I have seen a few of these get better without any treatment except TOT: tincture of time.
Most folks either learn to live with it, or decide to have the tonsils removed.
For more information on tonsil stones, follow this link.