Article overview tonsil stones
- Causes and risk factors
- Examinations and diagnosis
- Disease course and prognosis
Almond stones: description
Almond stones are so called because they arise in the furrows of the palatine tonsils and look like small white-yellow stones. They can be different sizes, with their diameter usually not more than five to six millimeters. Their consistency varies from soft and crumbly to rock hard. The medical term for almonds is tonsils, almond stones are therefore also called tonsil stones or tonsilloliths.
How are almonds made?
Is in the colloquial language of "almonds" the speech, it means the palatine tonsils (Tonsilla palatina). These are located on both sides of the rear (soft) palate behind the palatal arch. They are part of the immune system and have the task of adapting the body's defenses to pathogens that enter the body through food.
The surface of the palatine tonsils has countless small depressions (crypts), which reach deep into the inside of the almonds. In these crypts, a mixture of porridge, mucosal cells, white blood cells and bacteria accumulates, which is completely normal. When chewing, the palate muscles tense, causing the crypts regularly empty and refill.
In the diet and in the saliva, however, certain lime salts occur, which can be stored in the Breigemisch of the crypts. When that happens, it hardens and the consistency appears stony. The almond stones are often deep in the crypts, but can also reach the surface.To the table of contents
Almond stones: symptoms
In most cases, almond stones cause no discomfort. They are often very small and, if they reach the surface of the almonds, they will be swallowed, coughed or sneezed out unnoticed.
However, the constituents of an almond stone have an unpleasant odor reminiscent of rotten eggs. Therefore, especially larger almond stones can cause bad breath.
In rare cases, large almond stones can also trigger a foreign body sensation on the back palate, which is particularly noticeable when swallowing. Swelling and pain on the affected tonsils are also possible.To the table of contents
Almond stones: causes and risk factors
Almond stones are common to all people, but they are usually so small that they do not make themselves felt. Why they are more common in some or even bigger, is not known exactly.
Doctors suspect that the size of the almonds themselves plays a role. In humans, which have basically large almonds, the crypts are deeper. Thus, more easily almond stones. Cause can also be a disturbed emptying of the crypts. They are often observed as a result of recurrent inflammation with scarring of the tonsils. Therefore, tonsil stones are particularly common in young adults who suffer from tonsillitis several times a year. However, this does not mean that people with almonds automatically have more tonsillitis.To the table of contents
Almond stones: examinations and diagnosis
An almond stone is often a coincidental finding during a dental or ENT doctor visit. Sometimes, however, a doctor also explicitly looks for it, for example with unexplained bad breath. Depending on the size and distance to the surface, an almond stone may shimmer whitish through the mucous membrane or appear as a white deposit on the tonsils. If it is deeper, you normally can not see it with the naked eye.
Ultimately, tonsil stones can indeed be detected on X-ray images and even better with a computed tomography. Due to the costs and radiation exposure of these examinations, however, they are generally not used to detect almond stones. Complaints usually cause only larger stones on the surface.
Sometimes, almonds are confused with pus, which occurs with tonsillitis. In the case of an inflammation, the tonsils would also be severely red and swollen and the infection is usually accompanied by fever.