Have you ever observed a white lump or spot on your tonsil? Are you worried about what it is? Some believe that its tonsillitis while others think it to be tonsil stones. Have you also got confused between the two? If so, let’s clear this confusion here in this article so that you can know if you have any of these conditions.

You need to remember the fact that tonsillitis and tonsil stones are different conditions. Generally people get confused as both of them have similar symptoms. Let’s read in detail below:Difference Between Tonsillitis And Tonsil Stones

Tonsil stones

Tonsil stones are formation stones that build up because of calcification of particles such as foreign objects, food etc. This then forms a sort of calcified material on the tonsils. These stones are relative rare case that people face which is why people assume that the tonsil stones are tonsillitis. The stones are actually known as tonsilloliths that are small in size. The larger ones are highly rare and they can be a cause of concern.

The tonsil stones are caused due to dirty lymph liquid. So, the main difference between tonsillitis and tonsil stones is that while tonsils are an organ of elimination and tonsil stones are the result of this elimination.

Some tonsil stones are visible in the back of the throat as a lump of solid white material. This is not always the case. Often they are hidden in the folds of the tonsils. In these instances, they may only be detectable with the help of non-invasive scanning techniques, such as CT scans or magnetic resonance imaging.

Tonsil stones can be faced anywhere in tonsil. As there is a shared nerve pathway, the stones may cause an individual to feel pain in the ear as well even though this stone may not be touch the ear at all.

Causes of tonsil stones

This condition may be caused due to different reasons. While some are lifestyle related like eating too much of sugar and refined foods, others may be due to increasing particles in lymph fluid. Some more causes include allergy, stress, alcohol, post nasal drip and intake of excessive dairy products.

People who face tonsil stones are the ones who have experienced tonsillitis very frequently. These are the people who get bacteria gathering in the areas at all times and this creates a situation where they develop the calcified debris. Also people who face chronic inflammation in tonsils are more likely to face tonsil stones.

The tonsil stones might not cause any symptoms if they are really small in size. But if they are undetected, they may become larger in size with time and start showing symptoms like bad breath, pain in the ear, pain while swallowing food, tonsil swelling, chronic sore throat etc.


Tonsillitis is swelling as well as enlargement of tonsils. It is located at back of the throat and is covered with pus having white areas. This makes people believe that the white spots are actually tonsil stones. Tonsillitis is the case when your tonsils seem to be swelled up due to some bacterial or viral infection. The tonsils become red in colour and enlarged. While the tonsillitis is caused because of bacterial infection, there are various factors which can contribute to growth of tonsil stones including allergies, excessive stress, excess of alcohol consumption etc.

In fact, tonsillitis is a common condition. Even with the people who have good immunity, a single bacterial infection in tonsils can become irritating. There are indeed over 200000 cases reported for tonsillitis every year and so people should take care of the symptoms as soon as they start facing any.

Symptoms of tonsillitis

The common symptoms of tonsillitis along with swollen, red tonsils and problem in swallowing the food include severe headache, fever and chills, painful eyes, stiff neck, body pain etc.

Main difference between the two- Tonsillitis vs. Tonsil stones

Unlike the case with tonsil stones, tonsillitis is contagious. Sharing drinks, kissing can actually spread this condition and people even catch it through sneezes and cough of other people around them. People who face lot of difficulty with such bacterial infections frequently may be more likely to experience tonsillitis also. Also people who have weak immune system are more likely to face tonsillitis. This condition is caused by viral infection often than the bacterial infection.

Treatment for both tonsil stones and tonsillitis

Gargling with some salt water can help alleviate symptoms linked with tonsil stones and it can help when it comes to treating tonsillitis as well. The main difference between both the conditions does not lie with treatment process. Some people even use antibiotics for treating tonsil stones and can cause them to shrink.

In many cases, stones may be very small that people can actually wait to let them go away. But people should not assume that this will happen at all times and should consult the doctor to ensure that they can treat the tonsil stones through the right treatment.

But the large tonsil stones will surely need to get surgically removed. This is the treatment that doctors choose for the aggressive and largest stones that cannot be removed through other treatment or home remedy options.

Talking about tonsils treatment, having them removed is less common these days as tonsils protect the upper airway. But this may be helpful for all those who face infected tonsillitis frequently.

Doctors have also realized over the past few years that treating tonsils which is the one time infection is not necessary. These days the doctors advise surgery for just a few cases. If you actually face getting infection at frequent intervals then the doctor may suggest you going for surgery. So if your infection lasts for a long time than usual or in case your condition doesn’t get better with medication, you can go with surgery. But unless the condition calls for surgery at all costs, the doctor may help you with treating you with some medications.

Final words

In situations where a person experiences tonsillitis and tonsil stones together, it may be very tough to know whether the pain felt is due to the tonsil stone or the infection. In case of tonsil stone however the pain or discomfort may be faced in the region it is lodged in.

So, these are the main differences to determine if you are facing tonsillitis or tonsil stones. Consult your doctor as soon as you face any symptoms or issues and start with a suitable treatment at the earliest.