Lifestyle & Health : Why does he have bad breath?
A young man writes Check Up from a Bridgeport address in Portmore. At age 21, he suffers with bad breath. Recently, his doctor told him it was caused by tonsil stones.
He has heard of kidney stones and gallstones, but this was the first he had heard of tonsil stones.
The substance removed from his tonsil was thick, pasty and odorous! He asks Check Up how to prevent tonsil stones from occurring.
The tonsils are glands located at the back of the throat in the two corners. Tonsils are made up of lymphoid tissues, whose work is to prevent infection entering the body and to fight infections.
It also functions like a net, trapping incoming bacteria and food particles. The tonsils are filled with crevices where bacteria, food particles, post nasal drip mucous, dead cells and debris are trapped.
These trapped particles come together and even dry out, creating concentrated white plugs known as tonsil stones or tonsilloliths.
These plugs can harden or even become calcified. They tend to occur more often in people who have chronic tonsillitis or sinus issues.
Many people experience small tonsil stones, but few ever have large solid stones like those which occur in the kidneys or gall bladder.
Sometimes these tonsil stones protrude from their tonsil crypt and feel gritty, like a foreign object lodged at the back of the throat.
They are not harmful but are a real cause of halitosis (bad breath) as they give off the bad smell of decaying food, old mucous and bacteria.
In a few people, they can cause a sensation of the throat closing off, coughing fits and choking as bits fall free down the back of the throat.
They are associated with a bad taste in the mouth, tonsil swelling and even earache. They can be difficult to diagnose and can be a casual finding on radiological studies.
Gargling with warm salt water or diluted hydrogen peroxide several times daily, and washing out the tonsils, can keep the tonsil crypts clean and clear of particles which will later cause stones to occur.
Treating sinus issues to prevent post-nasal dripping on to the tonsils is also very helpful in prevention of tonsil stones.
This can be achieved with the use of prescribed steroidal nasal drops. Large tonsil stones may need to be curetted and irrigated by a physician.
This will also help reduce the associated bad breath.