Tonsil rocks?
February 21, 2004 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone ever get little white smelly ball like things in the back of their mouth that either come out after a long time on their own or after intense coughing with your finger pused up against the back of the mouth? Sounds gross I know but I know im not the only person who gets these. I read that they are bacteria and mucus the gets lodged back there and grows. Also people who have had their tonsils removed dont get them. My question is for those who will admit to getting them... how do you deal with them?
posted by Recockulous to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I get goopy things, but always thought they were phlegm/ that what you mean?
posted by amberglow at 11:15 AM on February 21, 2004

Response by poster: they are solid not like rock solid but come out in chuncks. they are white or offwhite colored solid in color as well.
posted by Recockulous at 11:52 AM on February 21, 2004

There's glop impacted in your tonsils -- tonsils are full of nooks and crannies to hold the melted butter, and food bits can be caught in a nook (or cranny) and become a happy feeding ground for bacteria and other assorted nasties.

My sister has 'em on and off, and docs have told her that the only real cure for it is a tonsilectomy, but that unless it swings into full-on tonsilitis, there's no real medical reason to do the surgery. Then again, she was told that back in the early 80s when she was a wee tot.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:54 AM on February 21, 2004

Lots of gargling with Listerine.
posted by keli at 11:54 AM on February 21, 2004

The condition in question is known as tonsilloliths or tonsil stones. They are the resulting build-up of food particles, bacteria, and epithelial cells that can amass inside your tonsillar crypts, the ridges or cavities that exist in many people's tonsils. The reason people who have undergone tonsillectomies don't suffer from this condition is because they have no tonsils and, therefore, no tonsillar crypts. The condition is harmless, but can be annoying and contribute to halitosis.

Physicians will recommend the regular use of a water pik to flush the area and keep it free of debris. You can also dislodge material using the blunt end of an object (i.e. your toothbrush) but be careful not to injure the back of your throat. Also, gargle frequently with warm water and brush your teeth more often.
posted by Danelope at 11:56 AM on February 21, 2004

Oh, and IANAD. But my tonsils are horribly scarred due to a lifetime of tonsillitis and/or strep throat. The last time I went to the doctor (for the standard-issue prescription for Amoxicillin), she peered into the back of my throat and the following conversation ensued:

Her: Oh my God!
Me: Huaaaghn? [removes the tongue depressor] What?
Her: Do you smoke?
Me: No...
Her: Do you smoke pot?
Me: No? Why?
Her: I've never seen tonsils so scarred before! <shudders>
posted by Danelope at 12:01 PM on February 21, 2004

This post scores high on the ick factor and high pn usefulness. thanks.
posted by theora55 at 1:05 PM on February 21, 2004

posted by theora55 at 1:05 PM on February 21, 2004

This question specifically has been driving me nuts for months, thanks! I have always had these things but first heard of someone else having them in this movie The Logger [local woodchuck-style comedian] where he called them "stinkballs" which seemed pretty right on. I get more of them when I have colds or other ailments. I had heard once a long time ago that it was the tonsils' way of removing bacteria or other crap they caught in a safe-ish way... they cover 'em with phlegm and make you get rid of 'em.
posted by jessamyn at 1:39 PM on February 21, 2004

posted by quonsar at 3:08 PM on February 21, 2004

/ Roseanne Rosennadanna
posted by madamjujujive at 3:10 PM on February 21, 2004

My brother used to call them "throat cheese."

posted by whatnot at 3:17 PM on February 21, 2004

Maybe try a pro-biotic first thing in the morning and as the last thing before bed. Make sure it's either something that can be scooped out of the container, or opened and dissolved in the mouth.
posted by Feisty at 3:47 PM on February 21, 2004

Wow, I don't feel so alone after all. I brush my tongue while brushing my teeth, and I have not seen them for a long time. I remember how bad they smell. Yuck. Damn, I had no idea it comes from your tonsils.
posted by Keyser Soze at 5:08 PM on February 21, 2004

sorry sorry derail derail but there is no email in your profile. reckockulous - you must explain your name to the world. I must know - is it because of Adam Carolla's joke about "redickulous"? hahaha
posted by ac at 7:10 PM on February 21, 2004

I don't have anything constructive to add, except that I did deal with those for a couple years. I learned pretty well how to coerce them out without fingers or much coughing by playing with the muscles back there. Very uncomfortable though.

Eventually they stopped entirely, I haven't had one for a few years.

Gross as it is, I'm glad people are confessing to it. I had no idea what was going on at the time since no one talks about it!
posted by jheiz at 8:10 PM on February 21, 2004

We always called them cauliflower.

They're nasty.

I've always wondered what they were... and now I know.

Don't know that I'm any better for it. But there you go.

"Knowing is half the battle."
posted by silusGROK at 9:16 PM on February 21, 2004

Your question has already been answered, but i have to chime in. I was plagued by these things 24/7 for years. I always felt as if i had something caught in my throat, and i was perpetually combating bad breath. I ditched them temporarily by becoming a vegetarian for a couple of years, but as soon as i started eating chicken again they reappeared. I did everything from tooth brushing, to water picking, to gargling. Nothing solved the problem.

My tonsils were so sensitive/large at the time that if i did anything to them -- sang loudly or sat in a smokey room -- i would have a sore throat the next day. Furthermore, i was constantly catching colds -- not just sore throats, but an increasingly constant string of low level maladies. When i finally saw an ENT (who termed my condition "cryptic tonsils"), she informed me that i was constantly harboring a low-level infection in their creepy depths, which was not only negating their status as a bodily defense, but actually making them harmful to my health.

I had my tonsils removed by that ENT, and i have to say that without a doubt it's the best thing i've ever done for myself. In the nearly two years since then i've only been legitimately sick enough to call out from class/work once or twice. I no longer have chronically bad breath, my throat is never sore, and i haven't seen a trace of the tonsil stones ever since.

By themselves the debris might not seem like such a big problem, but you should have your ENT check out your tonsils. In the US, at least, tonsilectomy is not frequently performed once you're older than your mid-twenties, so if you don't solve this annoyance early it could be a problem for life.
posted by krisis at 10:26 PM on February 21, 2004 [1 favorite]

For the first time, I am truly glad I had my tonsils out when I was younger. Jesus fucking Christ.

Fascinating, though.
posted by cortex at 10:31 PM on February 21, 2004

I still have my tonsils but as far as I know I've never had these! (shudder)

The things you find out an AskMeFi.
posted by litlnemo at 11:20 PM on February 21, 2004

ewwww human ambegris!
posted by elphTeq at 3:15 AM on February 22, 2004 [1 favorite]

I wonder if this is something caused by diet. I've never heard of such things before.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:21 AM on February 22, 2004

Response by poster: ac,

its just word that my friends would use to descibe some drunken college adventures... an immature thing... thats all :)
posted by Recockulous at 11:49 AM on February 22, 2004

I'm not sure why some people think *this* crosses the line when I've seen far worse and less useful questions here before. I appreciate this question being asked because I've had them from time to time too, and wondered if it was a sign of impending death.

I've wondered about this too but been way too embarrassed to ask anyone about it. I have chronic allergies and regular throat and sinus infections, and never related the "throat cheese" to my tonsils (which are often inflamed)...probably time to mention it to the doctor in case she thinks it's significant.

Oh, to answer your question, Recockulous, I deal with them by gargling with salt water or listerine and pretending they never happened.

FFF, I think there could be a relationship between dairy intake and this, since I've always associated dairy intake with mucus production. Not sure if others have experienced this too.
posted by catfood at 11:52 AM on February 22, 2004

I have no idea what any of you people are talking about, and I intend to keep it that way. Sounds like some good tips, anyway.
posted by rushmc at 4:46 PM on February 22, 2004

Ask Metafilter : "Gross as it is, I'm glad people are confessing to it."
posted by troutfishing at 6:15 PM on February 22, 2004

« Older DVD rental by post in the UK.   |   Need Some Pesos? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.