Occasionally, feeling like you’ve a lump inside your throat has absolutely nothing to do with strong emotions. Occasionally, its only tonsil stones, those pebble like white things which some people periodically find nestled inside their tonsils. Just what’re these gross throat squatters? The answer is both simple and complicated. Tonsil stones are typically white is yellow and may range in size from microscopic pieces to chunks several centimeter in diameter. These tonsillitis official medical terms made of material that accumulates in the folds of the tonsils. You see, tonsils are not just smooth mounds of tissue. They’ve folds called tonsillar crypts that form pits in the tissue.
The tonsils act as the body defender against any foreign substances which come in through your mouth, and tonsillar crypts increase the surface area of the tonsils to give them more of a possibility to catch anything coming in that the body needs to mount an immune response to. A normal tonsil usually has dozens of crypts. Just how tonsil stones are formed within those crypts is a bit more complicated. Mental Floss spoke to 3 different parapsychologists on the subject, and every one of them provided somewhat different answers. Like any tissue within your body, tonsils are continuously regenerating.
Read More: How to Get Rid Tonsil Stones
Exactly like your skin peels, that dead tonsil tissue gets sloughed off. There, bacteria from your mouth can start to grow on it, turning that material in a semi hard stone that Dr. Erich Vomit, the director of general nanotechnology at NYU Langone Health in New York, likens to a cheesy ball. – Tonsillar crypts are the perfect environment for bacteria, because they are poorly oxygenated, but rich in supply of blood. It becomes an appropriate area for the bacteria to populate and comply with one another, plus they form what’s called a biofilm structure. Yosef Krespi, an otolaryngologist who practices in the North Shore LIJ Health System in NY, tells Mental Floss.
A tonsil stone is just a lump of biofilm, he says. When researchers have examined what tonsil stones are made of, he says, theres calcium, theres sulfurtheres a whole host of other elements within them, he explains. That is not to say the bacteria are not involved. Researchers studying the microbial make-up of tonsil stones have found that the types of anaerobic bacteria commonly found within and inside tonsilloliths are associated with producing volatile sulfur compounds, which is the reason people with really bad cases of tonsil stones may suffer from halitosis. While Voigt and Shah emphasized the tissue and keratin from the tonsils that gets trapped in these crypts as the origin of stones, other research has noted that trapped food debris in the tonsillar crypts may cause tonsilloliths.