If your child has tonsil stones, their doctor will probably check for an underlying condition like celiac disease, but it’s not always clear exactly why.
Some people who have tonsil stones have an underlying condition that affects their immune system, such as celiac disease, or an allergy.
Some foods or drinks are known to cause tonsil stones, including:
- Milk and other dairy products
- Carbonated drinks
- Citrus fruits
- Non-dairy chocolate
- Sesame seeds
There’s no evidence that drinking milk causes tonsil stones, but it’s possible that it could aggravate a preexisting condition.
For example, drinking milk might irritate the tonsils in some people with chronic tonsillitis, or in people with allergies.
Milk contains a protein called casein, which can cause inflammation and irritation. This can make tonsils and their lymph nodes swell and become infected.
If you have an allergy to milk, eating it may sometimes trigger a flare-up of your symptoms.
Straw isn’t a common trigger of tonsil stones. However, if you have a history of tonsil stones, you might be more likely to get them from eating too much straw.
Straw contains a naturally occurring sugar called sorbitol. This is what causes the bubbles in the straw to form when you suck on it, which is one of the reasons why drinking it can cause tonsillitis.
Some people have a sensitivity to sorbitol, and it’s possible that consuming too much of it might irritate their tonsils.
It’s also possible that drinking too much straw causes tonsil stones by irritating the tonsils and the throat.
Yeast is a common source of food sensitivities and allergies, including tonsil stones.
Yeast is a fungus that grows on grains. It can cause irritation and inflammation in the mouth.
Some people with tonsil stones have a sensitivity to yeast, and eating too much of it could be to blame.
For example, eating foods that contain yeast, such as bread, could cause irritation in your tonsils.
People who have yeast sensitivity in their mouth might experience:
- A burning sensation in their mouth
- An itchy sensation in their mouth
- Redness and swelling of their mouth
- A sore throat
- A cough
Some people might also have a sensitivity to dairy products.
Eating foods that contain yeast, such as:
All of these products contain dairy ingredients, which can irritate your tonsil and cause tonsil stones.
Other foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugar can also irritate your tonsils.
- Sugar-free candies
- Fruit juices
- Fruit-flavored drinks
The sugar in these foods can cause swelling and irritation in the tonsils.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology estimates that 30 to 40 percent of people with tonsil stones are sensitive to carbohydrates.
Other foods can also cause tonsil stones, including:
- Alcohol and alcoholic drinks
- Coffee beans
- Non-alcoholic wine
These foods can irritate your tonsils and cause swelling and pain.
Tonsil stones can be hard to diagnose. Most cases occur after a person has been sick, which can make it hard to tell if they’re related to eating too much.
How to prevent tonsil stones?
If you have a history of tonsil stones, you may be more likely to experience them due to eating too much of a certain food.
But there are some things you can do to prevent them.
Keep your mouth clean
If you have a chronic throat infection or tonsillitis, you might be more likely to get tonsil stones from eating too much of a food you already have a sensitivity to.
To avoid getting tonsil stones:
- Make sure you wash your mouth after you eat.
- Rinse your mouth with warm water.
- Use a mouthwash.
- Avoid eating foods that are high in sugar.
If your tonsils are swollen, you might notice that eating too much of a certain food irritates your tonsils and makes them swell.
But if you don’t have tonsil stones, you don’t need to avoid that food.
You can still enjoy eating it.
You can reduce your risk of getting tonsil stones by:
- Eating smaller meals
- Eating at a slower pace
- Eating smaller portions
- Drinking plenty of water
- Drinking herbal teas
Shop for herbal teas.
Other ways to prevent tonsil stones
There are other things you can do to prevent tonsil stones.
You may want to avoid eating certain foods or drinks to reduce your risk of getting tonsil stones.
Eating too much: Some people with tonsil stones are sensitive to carbohydrates and sugar. So, if you have a history of tonsil stones, try to limit the amount of foods that contain those ingredients.
Drinking too much: You shouldn’t drink too much soda, coffee, or other soft drinks.
Lifestyle changes can also help you avoid getting tonsil stones.
For example, you can try:
- Quitting smoking.
- Changing your diet.
- Taking an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever like acetaminophen.
- Getting a flu shot.
When to see your doctor?
If you have tonsil stones, you should see your doctor.
Tonsil stones usually require medical attention.
You should also see your doctor if you experience:
- A sore throat with pus.
- Swollen tonsils with redness or pain.
- A green or white tongue.
- A fever.
- A fever that doesn’t go away with OTC medication.
- Pain that keeps you up at night.
- Persistent bad breath.
How are tonsil stones diagnosed?
If you’re experiencing tonsil stones, it’s important to see your doctor.
In some cases, your doctor might order X-rays of your throat. They might also order an ultrasound to help them determine the size and shape of your tonsils.
You might also need a CT scan or MRI scan.
In some cases, your doctor might do a swab test, which involves taking a small sample of your spit to test for a bacterial infection.
The swab test is usually used to diagnose strep throat, a bacterial infection of the throat.
Your doctor may also order a culture of the tonsils to determine the exact type of bacteria.
How are tonsil stones treated?
If you don’t have tonsil stones, your doctor will probably treat your throat infection with an antibiotic.
Tonsil stones are usually treated with a combination of:
- Antifungal medication.
- Antihistamine medication.
- Pain medications.
- A throat lozenge.
The treatment for tonsil stones is typically long-term. You might be able to keep the stones from recurring, for some time.
But if you don’t get treatment, tonsil stones can become a chronic condition.
Tonsil stones are hard to diagnose. But if you have a history of tonsil stones, you may be more likely to experience them due to eating too much of a food you already have a sensitivity to.
There are a few ways to prevent tonsil stones, but tonsil stones can still happen.
If you don’t have tonsil stones, you don’t need to avoid that food
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