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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

I have white `stuff on my tonsils`

03/14/2008

Question:

Hi, I have white "stuff" on the back, well sides, of my throat, I thought it might be strep but I have no other symtoms other then my throat being a little sore when I swallow. Any idea of what it may be?

Answer:

Many people will collect debris and food particles in the tonsil tissue that sits at the sides of the throat.  Even if you had your tonsils removed, you still may have a small amount of tonsil tissue remaining in the sides of the throat near the back of the tongue that can collect some whitish material (debris).  This condition can progress to small concretions (stones) forming and sticking to the throat.  These little stones are called tonsilloliths ("tonsil stones").  I have had many patients come in and tell me that they will use Q-tips or other instruments to remove these small stones or white debris.  This material will often have a foul smell which can affect ones breath.

It is interesting that this condition is often associated with acid reflux disease.  In addition to the complaint of white "stuff' on the back of the throat, I also hear complaints of frequent throat clearing, occasional cough, lump in the throat sensation, mucus in the throat (sometimes worse in the morning) and bad breath.  If you have some or many of these complaints you may have acid reflux.  I recommend seeing an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor for a thorough examination of your throat and appropriate medical therapy if needed.  You can certainly start with your primary care doctor to see if he has any thoughts on this problem.

Good luck.

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Response by:

Keith M Wilson, MD Keith M Wilson, MD
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Head and Neck Division
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati