White Spots in Throat / Strep Throat / Tonsil Stones
December 20 2009 - Day 1
Every once in a while I get the feeling like there's a hard, sharp piece of popcorn stuck at the back of my throat, right where the tonsils are, but on the left or right side. That usually is an initial warning sign that I'm about to get sick. When I woke up the morning of Dec 20, 2009, I had that sharp, piece of popcorn feeling on the right side of my throat. In past years I would sit and try to think when I last ate popcorn, and even try to "get it out" with my finger. This time I was wiser, perhaps because I haven't had popcorn for quite a while. I knew I was probably going to come down with something.
I posted about it on Facebook, and instantly several other people chimed in that they get that same sequence of events. Then one person, Deb, asked if I had white spots inside my throat. I'd never thought to look! So I asked my boyfriend to get a flashlight and camera and see what he could see.
Sure enough, right where the painful part was - white spots on the inside of my throat. It's technically on the tonsils - the flaps of skin on either side of the inside of the throat. If you look at the dangly thing (the "uvula") and then look left and down a little, there are three white spots.
Tonsil Stones / Tonsillolith
One potential issue that causes white spots in this area are "tonsil stones". or tonsillolith. These are apparently fairly common in adults and if someone tends to get them, they tend to keep getting them. They usually keep showing up on one side. They are accumulations of bacteria and mucus and such that harden. Apparently they cause bad breath. So I thought this could be the cause.
Wikipedia says these can be lessened with frequent tooth brushing and gargling. I do brush my teeth every morning and night, but I don't gargle - it burns my throat when I do. So I'll try to find a gentler alternative. They say that they are also "natural" on some people who have high salivation and who have deep crevices in their tonsils. I don't know if I have too much saliva - how would someone know? I don't drool, but I suppose there are middle levels of saliva in there.
However, we spent a lot of time poking at these, prodding at them, and trying to see if they were "hard chunks". The white spots did not wipe off or change - but they also did not seem to be hard. So I do not think they are tonsil stones.
Strep Throat / Tonsillitis
This makes it seem more likely to be strep or tonsillitis. Photos I find on the web of this situation seem to match my photos - sort of swirly white spots, no hard edges, a more paint-dab look. Here are more photos of my white spots.
Strep is caused by a bacteria, so antibiotics will work on it. Tonsillitis is caused by a either a bacteria or a virus, so antibiotics will work or NOT work on it depending on the source. So it's important for a doctor to diagnose the issue and determine which it is. I'll note that apparently antibiotics don't "make you better faster". In all of these cases you will be sick for 1-2 weeks as the illness runs its course. However, antibiotics will ensure you are contageous for a shorter period of time, helping those around you.
I am frustrated that I'm sick because it's the holidays, and I never go out! I work from home. I only interacted with one person at the post office. Did that one encounter make me sick for 2 weeks? That's a good argument to print my own postage :) I tried to call my local health clinic but they told me to call back tomorrow morning. So we'll see how it goes then.
My temperature is 98.6F exactly, which is odd because usually my temperature is lower-than-normal. So I'll track that too.
Move on to Tonsillitis Day 2
Strep Throat / Tonsillitis Photos Main Page
Lisa's Biology Pages