Why do almonds smell so bad

Almond stones

Almond stones: description

Almond stones are so named because they arise in the furrows of the tonsils and look like small white-yellow stones. They can be of different sizes, but their diameter is usually no more than five to six millimeters. Their consistency varies from rather soft and crumbly to rock hard. The medical term for tonsils is tonsils, which is why tonsil stones are also called tonsil stones or tonsillolites.

How are almond stones formed?

If the term “almonds” is colloquially used in medicine, it means the palatine tonsils (tonsilla palatina). These are located on both sides on the back (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 with food.

The surface of the tonsils has innumerable small depressions (crypts) that extend deep into the interior of the tonsils. A mixture of food pulp, mucous membrane cells, white blood cells and bacteria collects in these crypts, which is completely normal. When chewing, the palate muscles tighten, which means that the crypts regularly empty and refill.

In the food and in the saliva, however, certain calcium salts also occur, which can be deposited in the pulp mixture of the crypts. When that happens, it hardens and the consistency appears stone-like. The tonsil stones are often located deep in the crypts, but they can also reach the surface.

Tonsil stones: symptoms

In most cases, tonsil stones do not cause discomfort. They are often very small and - if they get to the surface of the tonsils - are swallowed, coughed up or sneezed unnoticed.

However, the components of an almond stone have an unpleasant odor that is reminiscent of rotten eggs. Therefore, larger almond stones in particular can cause bad breath.

In rare cases, large tonsil stones can also trigger a foreign body sensation on the back of the palate, which is particularly noticeable when swallowing. Swelling and pain in the affected tonsils are also possible.

Almond stones: causes and risk factors

Almond stones occur in all people, but they are usually so small that they are not noticeable. It is not exactly known why they occur more frequently in some or why they become larger.

However, doctors suspect that the size of the tonsils itself plays a role. In people who generally have large tonsils, the crypts are also deeper. Thus, almond stones are formed more easily. The 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. This is why tonsil stones are particularly common in young adults who suffer from tonsillitis several times a year. However, the reverse does not mean that people with tonsil stones automatically have tonsillitis more often.

Almond stones: examinations and diagnosis

An almond stone is often a chance finding when you visit a dentist or an ENT doctor. Sometimes, however, a doctor also looks for it explicitly, for example in the case of 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, it can usually not be seen with the naked eye.

Ultimately, tonsil stones can be recognized on x-rays and even better with computer tomography. Due to the costs and radiation exposure of these examinations, however, they are usually not used to detect tonsil stones. Symptoms are usually only caused by larger stones on the surface.

Sometimes tonsil stones are mistaken for pus, which occurs with tonsillitis. In the event of an inflammation, the tonsils would also be reddened and swollen and the infection would usually be accompanied by fever.

Almond stones: treatment

If you want to remove tonsil stones, there are different options. Often a doctor is not necessary for this. Helpful methods to remove tonsil stones yourself are:

  • With your head stretched backwards, open your mouth several times and close it again. This creates tension in the palate muscles, which may massage out the almond stone.
  • Press up against the underside of the almond, for example with a cotton swab or the back of the toothbrush. Some patients may also use their tongue to squeeze out tonsils, which is less likely to cause gagging.
  • Clean the almond with an oral irrigator under low pressure. This often loosens the tonsil stones.
  • Home remedies such as sage or chamomile-based mouthwashes can also help.

If you want to remove tonsil stones from yourself, you should never use pointed or sharp-edged objects, as this could cause injuries.

If the attempt to remove the tonsil stones yourself is unsuccessful, the ENT doctor can usually help. He has special tools for this, such as cuvettes or pipettes, with which he can squeeze out or suck out the tonsil stones. The so-called Roeder treatment is also a helpful method. The doctor places cupping glasses on the tonsils and sucks out the stones with the help of the negative pressure.

Almond stones: prevention

In order to prevent tonsil stones from forming in the first place, it can help to clean the tonsils regularly with an oral irrigator. Even if you brush them gently while brushing your teeth, this will clean the crypts and make the formation of almond stones more difficult.

Almond stones: disease course and prognosis

Almond stones are usually harmless and go unnoticed by those affected. Larger stones can cause discomfort, but are usually easy to remove. However arise Almond stones often again after they have been removed.

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