I Was a Tonsillolith Virgin

yes people, i have tonsilloliths.  i started getting them about 8-9 months ago.  the first two times i thought i was coughing up old food (it was bizarre, but for the sake of my sanity, i just ignored it).  then it happened a third time, i totally freaked out. 


i thought something was wrong with my esophagus (i'm a doctor, so trust me, i thought something was seriously wrong b/c i came up with weird diagnoses for myself).  then before i went running to the ENT doctor, i did some research on this topic and after almost a week of looking and looking (b/c i didn't know what terms to search for...remember, i was thinking esophagus not tonsils or stones), i found out that these were tonsil stones!  i ran to the mirror and tried looking at my tonsils, of course, there was nothing there at the time.


then a few days later, i got that weird sensation again and i looked again.  and YUP, there it was, another tonsil stone.  i finally managed to use my finger to push the sucker out.  its disgusting, but i just don't want my tonsils taken out (which, btw, i never thought were that big, and still don't think they're big, but they certainly have HUGE crevices).  so anyway, i don't want a tonsillectomy b/c they're supposed to be very, very painful for adults.


i'm super happy to have found this site to share my story.  i'd love to hear yours.

tonsilgirl tonsilgirl
26-30, F
40 Responses Nov 19, 2006

I'm nearly 59, and have been dealing with these awful things for as long as I can remember. About 6 months ago, I had all four wisdom teeth removed. After that, no more tonsilloliths! I can't see the connection, but there certainly seems that there is one in my case.

I have the same problem as the person who is unable to get them out. I have the terrible disgusting taste in my mouth, can feel the foreign ob<x>ject sensation in my throat, but cannot see them. Every once in awhile after a great deal of gargling, one will come out. I even had the dentist check yesterday. She could see the lump and that the tonsil appeared slightly irritated, but she could not get it, either. And, like the original poster, my first thought about 9 months ago was old food, the same a few months later. This last one was horrendous, though, and it was the smell of my breath and the taste in my mouth that started my investigating. I realize the medical concerns are minimal with this, but the social consequences are severe.

Nice to finally have an answer for my problem I have had all my life. Me and my brother have it and I have felt very misfortuned by it. Do MT'ing for my job and ran across this in a patient report. Finally nice to have a medical name for this problem. <br />
What I would like to ask on here is does this happen to anyone? I am 42 and find that when I try to push or produce the stones to come out (when the breath gets horrific and others start complaining to me about it, mainly my kids), I try to produce the stones. Well, it just drains foul-smelling mucus and not the hard stones and then I land myself with a case of strep throat or a very severe sore throat for days. It has made me not want to touch them and just use gargling with Listerine and oil of oregano drops on my throat. Does bothering them cause inflammation or problem for anyone else on here?<br />
Also, I have always wondered if the foul-smelling stones that are laden with bacteria could cause attribute to disease formation in the body. I just wonder if they are toxic to the body since they are so foul (odor wise). I have always felt like it was detrimental to my health so to speak, but only a doctor could answer this question I am sure. <br />
So glad to finally have a name to this discusting curse of a problem, tonsilliths. <br />
Hopefully waiting for someone's answers on here, thank you. <br />
signed 42 year suffer of tonsolliths that produce very foul-smelling breath and yes, you are right, you don't have very many friends because of it.

Tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths, are Not harmful for your overall health.

That being said, in your particular case I would recommend evaluation by an ENT. (Or at least discuss it with your primary care physician).

Here is why. I am concerned that you are describing minor tonsilar abscesses. All stones will be different depending on your body, what bacteria you have in your mouth, etc. so it's possible that they are simple stones and yours are just softer. However it sounds more like you are draining an abscess. I'm thinking perhaps you have stones which occasionally block off the crypts enough to create a nice oxygen free closed environment for Bacteria to grow and cause the foul smelling mucous u describe. Unlike stones, abscesses can cause significant illness. Such as airway compromise and sepsis. Since you have had this issue forever it's quite possible that you will never have a more severe infection. However as a family practice physician, ENT issues are not my specialty and I really can't comment on the likelihood either way.

As for the strep throat. You are probably colonized with the bacteria which causes strep throat. Meaning it just lives harmless in your mouth. So what is happening is most likely one of two things. Either the release of all that infected 'gunk' increases the amount of bacteria in your mouth enough to cause a flare up of strep throat infection. Or you have a tonsil abscess or tonsillitis already and the manipulation is just causing increased inflammation and pain. Or some combination of the two.

Anyway depending on how often this happens for you and how bothersome it is you may want to consider just getting the tonsils removed.
Thanks for sharing

I never used to get them. Then I had a really bad cold one time, got one, and have been getting them ever since. It seems they only get worse over time. They come in spurts: 2 months on 2 months off. Some of mine get quite large, irritate my throat, cause my tonsils to swell, and are sometimes very painful. I don't understand how everyone on here removes theirs so easily, because mine seem good and stuck. I don't have any gag reflex to speak of, so the issue really is no matter if I go for it with my finger, a q-tip, or sone other tool, it really just won't come out. The most painful ones I'm determined to remove take over an hour for me to get. So help me out here people, is there some trick to this I'm missing? <br />
<br />
I do best with prevention: as recommended by my doctor, I use a neti pot and regular salt water gargles year round. As recommended by my dentist, when I start getting tonsilloliths I gargle with a 1/2 hydrogen peroxide 1/2 water solution. <br />
<br />
As a note: my dentist STONGLY recommended against listerine or any other alcohol gargles. Why? Because alcohol is easily digested by the enzymes in your mouth into its simpler form: sugars. The bacteria that cause the tonsilloliths can then use the sugars for food and grow into bigger stronger meaner tonsilloliths.

Well, I might as well chime in here too. I'm 45, and I've had them for at least 25 years. It's probably been longer than that, but I only became aware of them around 20. I hate to think of how bad my breath was. I try to check my tonsils every couple of days, but sometimes it doesn't take long at all for them to form. There have been months at a time, however, when I won't develop any. I've always had bad allergies, so the post nasal drip is a fairly common problem. It's disheartening to know that no matter how well you try to keep on top of the gargling, the saline nasal spray, and the tongue scraping that they'll just form anyway. I've become extremely self-conscious about it. I probably wouldn't be this concerned, but I noticed a friend who has some really bad butt breath, and I'm sure that's her problem too. I'd know that stench anywhere. I may have given up any hope of relief for myself, but I'd like to say something to her with the hope that she'll have better luck than I have, but I don't know how.

I suffered from these things for years. <br />
<br />
The crypts on your tonsils will NEVER go away, only get worse. Stones form in them, make them bigger, pop out, and the process repeats itself. Made my breath smell horrible sometimes.<br />
<br />
I finally got a tonsillectomy, at 29 years old. 2 weeks of painful recovery, but no more tonsil stones.... ever, tonsils just don't exist anymore. <br />
<br />
It was 110% worth it.

Anyone know if you can get them all out, or most, will the tonsil heal/ crypts close and you wont get them again? Or am I doomed to keep getting them. I just pushed a dime sized one out with a q-tip, I think that's the best method of getting to them. And this is the first time I've ever noticed them, and have been pushing out tonsil stones for the last 2 days. I've also been sick, coughing up dark green mucus.

Man, I have to say, I have been amused reading everyone's response for the past little while. I first came across these stinky yellowish/white balls a few months ago (at least to my knowledge). At first I thought I had a huge cat hair stuck in the back of my throat for a while and the irritating sensation would come and go (my mom has like 5 cats, it's a lot I know). But then after a couple weeks of having the sensation coming and going, I one day coughed up a broken piece of one these tonsillolith, but at the time I thought just like the original poster, that it was a piece of old food and thought nothing of it.......It had to be one of the worst smelling things I've come across. Fast forward a couple months......I one day for whatever reason decided to do that 'ahhhhhhhh' thing the dentist always ask you to do to check your throat......And sure enough, I see a piece of what looked like a white ball protruding out of the back of my throat on my tonsil.....I thought I had a tumor or some weird scab at first. So what did I do? I started poking it with tweezers. When that didn't work, I became more aggresive and just used my fingers, stroking back and forth, until finally I pushed from beneath towards the top of my mouth, and it shot out like Mario flying out of pipes. Luckily I didn't swallow it, b/c I wanted to investigate it and the first thing I typed into all knowing google was "weird thing came out of the back of my throat" and the first link was a match made in heaven, which eventually got me here, telling my story. After thinking for a minute, I went to check my other tonsil on the other side of my mouth, and I had one in there as well, it was bigger but it never bothered me for some reason........ Now, I am on to preventing this, I will take your advice and use salt water or mouth wash and gargle like a saint, scrape my tongue from the back, and spray saline solution in my nose to clear it. Thanks and good luck to all tonsillolith survivors.

I been suffering from this since I was 15 years old, I went to the doctor, he didnt know what it was, he gave me anti-biotics but it didnt work.I tried everything, then I studied my diet, tried cutting out junk food, but it wasnt working. <br />
<br />
I noticed I wasnt eating fruits, from that day on, I eat 3 fruits (preferably citruis fruits) a day & I dont get these tonsil stones. If I dont eat fruits for 2 weeks the tonsil stones come back. Try it out,it might work for you because it worked for me, the simple solution for me was to increase my fruit intake

Hi I have been getting these for years and it freaked me out in the beginning. My good friend once asked me in highschool if I ever had "stinky white balls" that came from my throat. I thought he was wierd. The 1st time i saw one in my throat, I thought " oh no cancer". (Stupid me). I poked at it with a chopstick and saw it erupt like a whitehead (somehow a grossly satisfying experience). I use and Sonic Care tooth brush to clean the top of my mouth and back of my tongue and it seems to dislodge quite a few of those buggers in the morning. It gags me all the time, but the high speed vibratons seem to allow the tonsilliths to pop out of its "nest".

I also get these nasty things. I am 35 now and have been getting them on and off since I was about 19. As others have mentioned, they STINK and feel annoying when they start to emerge from the tonsil. I only just found out there as an actual name for them when I saw a news report in the Tampa, FL area about a woman who had been suffering with halitosis for years and was finally diagnosed with tonsil stones. Her doctor did a laser resurfacing of the tonsil which "cleansed" the tonsil and made the surface smoother and therefore less likely to collect debris and such.<br />
<br />
I am actually considering getting my tonsils out, just so I don't have to gag myself at least once a week to keep my tonsils cleaned out; and so I don't have bad breath anymore. I never had bad breath EVER until I started getting these icky things.<br />
<br />
I have been reading on the internet about the pain and recovery time for tonsillectomy and I am really worried about it. I am sick having bad breath, but I'm not sure it's worth approximately two weeks of agonizing pain.<br />
<br />
Does anyone have any opinion on this? Have you had to make this decision and chose to go forward? If so, was it worth it? If not, how have you controlled the odor and frequency of the tonsil stones?<br />
<br />
Has anyone has this laser resurfacing done? What's it like?<br />
<br />
Thanks in advance for any experiences you may have.<br />
<br />
Kathleen in S. FLA

I think I may have the same things! Never knew there was a name for it...

I had to come and read this just because of the heading, thought it was a joke! but am now wondering about that weird feeling i have been getting of late. do feel like gagging for no reason at times. probably not the same thing but at least you have prompted me to go see a doc x

it's terrible i have them too. It's embaressing because I know they my breath smells but noone says anything.<br />
<br />
mine used to come out every now and then but now they really dont. I dont know what to do. I gag when i try to get them out and cant usually do it anyways. i gargle, floss, and brush twice a day, and nothing seems to help. Is there anything that i could do?

I have spent hours reading about this strange tonsil thing! My 8 year old son had be complaining about something being stuck in his throat. I took a look and sure enough, I saw a strange looking white cluster on his left tonsil. I immediately thought strep, but he is feeling great and no fever, so I started to research. That's when I came across these strange and gross tonsillith stories. Last night he was coughing quite a bit (allergies) and this morning I looked again and the white clusters were gone leaving what looked like large empty crevices. I've been reading a lot of personal experiences and I hate the thought of my son having to deal with these for years to come. There must be a way to prevent them! Any suggestions?

I used to get those all the time. I had real bad breath. I used a long toothpick to remove them. Then I had my tonsils removed and ...Voila! No more bad breath. The pain was only temporary, I only wish I had them removed much earlier, because I lost many 1st and 2nd dates due to the bad breath.

I have this too. I'm also medical(not a doc). I use a peroxide gargle that seems to help, I've heard you can also gargle w/ getian violet but I've never tried it due to a fear of it staining the teeth

I have never heard of them but I have had my tonsils removed. <br />
<br />
I had them removed at 34 years of age. I was one of those people who got neuralgia as a result (temporary thank God) sufferd through a week of agony. <br />
<br />
To put it into perspective for me all I can say is after 2 induced childbirths that went from zero to delivery in 3 hours, epidurals that didn't work and I went into shock (and I'm no wuss) I would still rather do them 20 times over than have my tonsils out again.<br />
<br />
My 4 yo had to have hers out and I cried when I found out. She was operated on at 8am and sat up and ate a vegemite sandwich at midday crust and all. Never cried once in fact you would think nothing happened

I used to get these too and wondered what in the world they were. I ended up having a tonsillectomy at 24 after repeated tonsillitis...they were big to begin with but I had trouble breathing when they would swell up. I didn't know about tonsilloliths at the time but just now figured out what they were. <br />
<br />
And yes, they are horrifically painful for adults. No one told me how bad it was going to be or I probably would not have gone through with it...at one point I was taking a dozen Percocets a day (yes, I was prescribed that!) and it barely touched the pain.<br />
<br />
So...my advice is, even though they're gross, unless there is a real medical reason for a tonsillectomy, DON'T!!

I get those. They're not harmful; just bacteria/dead cell build up that gets caught in the little crevices back there. Yes, they smell like death, but no, your tonsils don't have to come out.

LMAO, this is hilarious I could make soooooooo many rude comments here.... I think im having a brain overload... What to say what to say what to say...

it is news to hear about tonsilstones

What are tonsilloliths? I never got it. I don't anything about it. Please explain?

hey tonisilgirl,<br />
<br />
I just thought that I would brush up on some light reading and came across this story of yours.. although I've never heard of tonsil stones... I have had the pleasure of having my tonsils removed when I was 15/16 years old.. or somewhere close to that age.... I had my nose cauterized at the same time due to chronic nose bleeds... <br />
<br />
All I can say (as far as pain wise goes) is that it all depends on your threshold tolerance for pain. The doctors that I had used O2 to put me out and take my tonsils out after I had a very bad case of tonsilitis, and I woke up grabbing my throat because it throbbed and hurt like I can't imagine what... so the doctors gave me some liquid demerol which not only made me extremely high ... lol...(that was a good laugh) but it made the pain go away.. all I was allowed to eat for the next 2 weeks was jello, Ice Cream, broth, that sort of thing... but never had a problem with sore throats anymore.. well all besides a really nasty cold or flu.. that's about it..<br />
<br />
I hope that helps you with your decision...<br />
<br />
Cheers!

Well, I had totally forgotten about having my tonsils removed or having tonsils. Now I remember the crevices. I used to get food stuck in them. It was nasty. The operation healing was extremely painful. I couldn't talk for days. It actually is the most pain that I've ever went through. I'm a guy:) I had my wisdom teeth removed and that was a lot of pain. I got food stuck in the holes and had to use a syringe to clean the areas. Food would come out of those to. Well, just thought I would try to growse you out:) Good luck on your decision.

i was also researching the whole tonsil stone thing and thats how i found this site! thanks for sharing your story!

hey tonisilgirl,<br />
<br />
I am an individual who has been plagued with these things for as long as i can remember. My sister and i have been joking about tonsilliths("STINK BOMBS"). Nice name HUH!!!!!<br />
My sister and I are 2 of 5 siblings that have not yet had our tonsils removed. I am the youngest(35). My sister is 42. The others have never felt, smelt, or seen a single "Stink Bomb". Lucky for them they had that little surgery that all young children and teens have feared.(TONSILECTIMY).<br />
Now I'm an educated man but, BY GOLLY! I am almost willing to have these buggers(tonsils and tonsil liths) removed without anethesia!!!!!! No just kidding, that would hurt. I am however considering highly the thought of urging my ENT to romove this lifelong problem. Yes, like you, I am aware that not only is there more pain involved during postsurgury recovery. Higher incidence of infection and a greater recovery time are at greater risk. I'm sure you know all of this b/c wellll you are a Dr.(Hence well educated.) It's funny though, I Discovered these things and figured out what they were before i was a teen. During my more outgoing days in school(studying Chem, Biology, and Pre-Anatomy I decided to boldly go where no man had gone before.(LOL) I brought one to my Chem teacher to see what his thoughts were. well, like most non-tonsil lith recipients he laughed. I proceeded to do my thing and produce one before his eyes.lol(usually done in the privacy of my bathroom). I said imediately "Now thats what i call a "Stink Bomb", "It's your job or our job if you like, to figure out what this thing is". Now at the age of ripe age of 13 i had a rep to protect by not becoming the laughing stock of my academic and athletic peers. Tonsilvirgin, can just remember the peer pressure that us pre-teens went through, WOW!!!!! Twenty years ago. Anyway, Fastforward, I have an absolutely beautiful young 7yr old who your never gonna believe, I have blessed her withhhhhhhhh stink bombs. Now virgin, when i tell you she has experienced coughing up a few tinyyyyyy stink bombs, well does the size of a nickel scare ya a lil. I mean she was cough here and there throughout the night but what i saw come out of her mouth that morning i thouth she was chokin on a freakin walnut. My god i had to actually remove it from her mouth she was unable cough it out. I did not know what it was until i smelt it. Then immediately in a sealed baggy. This thing was soooo freakin big, no joke diameter and radias of at least a nickel. they show pics of these on the internet in centimeters. PLLLLEEEEAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSEEEEE . I used a damned Ruler you know 1" 2" 3". I wish i took pic of it. Only my wife have seen the true girth of this thing. Unfortunately, the baggy didn't save it. By 6pm, it looking like a shrivled prune in the sun. We even refrigerated it. Well, Virgin it is getting late for me but i came across ur blog and i felt that i needed to interject with an abreviated but yet educated aspect of my experiences as a tonsil lith survivor. Please Respond with your sucesses and well lets just say non-sucesses. LOL............ Please respond at your convenience. email is vontyson@gmail.com

hey tonisilgirl,<br />
<br />
I am an individual who has been plagued with these things for as long as i can remember. My sister and i have been joking about tonsilliths("STINK BOMBS"). Nice name HUH!!!!!<br />
My sister and I are 2 of 5 siblings that have not yet had our tonsils removed. I am the youngest(35). My sister is 42. The others have never felt, smelt, or seen a single "Stink Bomb". Lucky for them they had that little surgery that all young children and teens have feared.(TONSILECTIMY).<br />
Now I'm an educated man but, BY GOLLY! I am almost willing to have these buggers(tonsils and tonsil liths) removed without anethesia!!!!!! No just kidding, that would hurt. I am however considering highly the thought of urging my ENT to romove this lifelong problem. Yes, like you, I am aware that not only is there more pain involved during postsurgury recovery. Higher incidence of infection and a greater recovery time are at greater risk. I'm sure you know all of this b/c wellll you are a Dr.(Hence well educated.) It's funny though, I Discovered these things and figured out what they were before i was a teen. During my more outgoing days in school(studying Chem, Biology, and Pre-Anatomy I decided to boldly go where no man had gone before.(LOL) I brought one to my Chem teacher to see what his thoughts were. well, like most non-tonsil lith recipients he laughed. I proceeded to do my thing and produce one before his eyes.lol(usually done in the privacy of my bathroom). I said imediately "Now thats what i call a "Stink Bomb", "It's your job or our job if you like, to figure out what this thing is". Now at the age of ripe age of 13 i had a rep to protect by not becoming the laughing stock of my academic and athletic peers. Tonsilvirgin, can just remember the peer pressure that us pre-teens went through, WOW!!!!! Twenty years ago. Anyway, Fastforward, I have an absolutely beautiful young 7yr old who your never gonna believe, I have blessed her withhhhhhhhh stink bombs. Now virgin, when i tell you she has experienced coughing up a few tinyyyyyy stink bombs, well does the size of a nickel scare ya a lil. I mean she was cough here and there throughout the night but what i saw come out of her mouth that morning i thouth she was chokin on a freakin walnut. My god i had to actually remove it from her mouth she was unable cough it out. I did not know what it was until i smelt it. Then immediately in a sealed baggy. This thing was soooo freakin big, no joke diameter and radias of at least a nickel. they show pics of these on the internet in centimeters. PLLLLEEEEAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSEEEEE . I used a damned Ruler you know 1" 2" 3". I wish i took pic of it. Only my wife have seen the true girth of this thing. Unfortunately, the baggy didn't save it. By 6pm, it looking like a shrivled prune in the sun. We even refrigerated it. Well, Virgin it is getting late for me but i came across ur blog and i felt that i needed to interject with an abreviated but yet educated aspect of my experiences as a tonsil lith survivor. Please Respond with your sucesses and well lets just say non-sucesses. LOL............ Please respond at your convenience. email is vontyson@gmail.com

Omg... I that happens to me too! ever since I was 8.. (now 20.) but I didn't think much of it... its not particularly hazardous..is it??

Omg... I that happens to me too! ever since I was 8.. (now 20.) but I didn't think much of it... its not particularly hazardous..is it??

Thanks for sharing. Who knew I'd learn something new and potentially useful on this site? I agree with internalarts though. The high read count is surely not because of the medical interest. Must be some sexual innuendo with tonsil virgin.

I think I have what you have but I'm not sure and have never had a definition for them...<br />
<br />
I've had them ever since I was in High School. Disgusting things. One time I coughed and this white mouldy smelly horrible thing came out. It was awful. Like bread and biscuits had climbed into my tonsils.<br />
<br />
I get the regularly now in the holes of my tonsils. They are gross and give me bad breath. I have to cough them out or push them out with my finger.<br />
<br />
Disgusting creatures I tell you!!<br />
<br />
Do these sound familiar by the way?? <br />
<br />
I haven't been to the doctor about them... They just stink! UGHHH!!!!<br />
<br />
QoS~

Never heard of it before! I am adult and I had a tonsillectomy some years ago. It was painful but I think that it is good to be over it when there is something wrong with them. I had often inflammation, so I said to my doctor that I don't need them. I can live without them. Since then I have no problems at least with this part of my body. :-)

Every time I see this story riding the front page as one of the most read I have a chuckle. It is well written, interesting and informative. And yet....and yet....I have to wonder how many reads it would have if the title said: "I Form Tonsil Stones" or "I Have a Problem with my Tonsils"? Maybe I am a sceptical person, but I wonder if the combination of the words "tonsils" and "virgin" has anything to do with the high number of reads? Maybe there are just a lot of people interested in medical conditions? Maybe.....Long live the tonsil virgin story.

I had no idea there was such a thing as a tonsil stone! That's fascinating.

I get them too. I'm embarrassed about it. They smell, and sometimes get really big. I try to scrape them out myself every few days. Does tonsil removal really help? They don't cause pain for me. If they get big I can feel them, or they might come out if I cough...<br />
I'd be interested to know what you find out.

I got mine removed when I was 6. Which is not a good thing because they clean the throat and make sure you dont' get an infection and protect the throat. Right? doctor :)))

a tonsil stone, I'm lost but interested. What is it and what do you do about it

i am interested in what kind of doctoring you do, i have been seeing doctors for the last four years now for pains in my chest, so far no one has been able to help me or discover what is wrong, i hurt a lot and don't know what to do anymore, if you are interested, let me know and i'll go into it further, desperatley seeking help.

We're super-happy to have you with us! The more you share, the more precisely you'll meet people who have the same background as you. Wouldn't it be neat to maybe meet another doctor with tonsil stones? That's what we're about. <br />
<br />
Again, welcome to the site!