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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Tonsil stones

10/23/2009

Question:

I have chronic tonsil stones. Is this something that can be treated? They smell terrible and I think it could be causing me to have bad breath.

Answer:

The definitive fix for this problem is to have your tonsils removed.  You cannot form tonsils stones if your tonsils are absent.  Before having your tonsils removed I usually recommend that my patients try a 6-12 week course of an acid reducing medication like Protonix, Nexium, Kapidex, etc.  Many patients with this problem also have acid reflux and interestingly do not complain of heartburn or indigestion.  The typical patient may have one or some of the following complaints:  frequent throat clearing, intermittent hoarseness, a lump in the throat sensation, difficulty swallowing (pills, food, etc), unexplained cough, mucus accumulation in the throat (often referred to as post nasal drainage), sour or acidic taste in the mouth, tonsilloliths (tonsil stones) and bad breath.

If you have some of the above complaints, I recommend that you talk to your doctor about trying one of these medications for a couple of months to see if your symptoms improve.  If they do, you don't need your tonsils removed.  If the symptoms don't improve with the medication, you should consider having your tonsils removed.

Good luck with this problem. 

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Response by:

Keith M Wilson, MD Keith M Wilson, MD
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Head and Neck Division
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati