Have the urge to cough for no apparent reason? Do you feel like there's something in your throat? Have you got bad breath? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, you may be suffering from one or more tonsil stones, which are small, whitish accumulations of gunk that get stuck in the back of your throat, just behind the glands they're named after.
While they're often small, these lumps of food matter and bacteria can grow very large. According to a recently published case report, tonsil stones may even be visible in your medical scans - though your halitosis will remain sneakily invisible.
A shining stone (not a gem)
In the report, which appears in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences, a team of Japanese otolaryngologists expressed their amazement at a rare find: A 72-year-old patient who complained of oral odor and throat pain was found to have a pearl-sized stone lodged in the folds of his tonsils.
The paper, which provides a stunning, appetite-suppressing, hi-res photo of the tonsil stone, also includes the original CT scan requested by the man's physicians. In it, you can clearly see the tonsillolith as a white, gleaming object lodged in the patient's tonsils.
Makes you want to clear your throat, doesn't it?
Use a specialty mouthwash
If so, then it's time you tried a specialty, alcohol-free mouthwash. These products use all-natural oxidizing agents to break up tonsil stone material and neutralize odor, all while avoiding harsh chemicals that could irritate the sensitive tissues of your throat.
These are certainly preferable to what the Japanese patient had to endure. Besides getting a high-radiation medical scan, he had his tonsil stone scraped out with a curette, which is a dental tool resembling a tiny, menacing ice cream scoop.