General Question

wildpotato's avatar

Does anyone else occasionally hack up small bits of cottage cheese-like stuff? What is it?

Asked by wildpotato (15224points) June 19th, 2009

Never worried about it before, but I’ve been getting a lot of it recently, and I can feel a hunk of the stuff crouching at the back of my throat, which is kind of unpleasant. Can anyone tell me anything about this?

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20 Answers

Clair's avatar

I had this problem a year or two ago but it disappeared. I think it just popped up when I was traveling and my sinuses couldn’t handle the crazy changes. I’m pretty sure mine was from sinus stress. I have a really sucky nose anyway. I’m very prone to infections. The gross cottage cheese stuff had the same smell as an infection.
eww. i feel for you.

MindErrantry's avatar

I’ve done this very occasionally—just have a little white thing sitting there at the back, usually caught in some ridge, but it’s never been in conjunction with any sinus or other issues—in fact, I’m usually feeling well at the time. So I’m sorry, I can’t really answer your question, but I was wondering if anyone had suggestions as to how to get rid of the darn things when the show up!

Clair's avatar

@MindErrantry I feel fine when I’ve had this problem in the past too. But as for advice on how to get rid of them, being the lady I am, I hock ‘em up.

MindErrantry's avatar

I try, it just never works… as I said, they’re usually stuck on a ridge way in the back—and I’ve got a mighty gag reflex. Blarg :)

Clair's avatar

@MindErrantry Haha! Yea, I jerk my balls out to get from way back there. I swallow until I can get to it. We’ve got to have the same problems though. You’re describing it perfectly.
Yum?...You’re damn right.

jfos's avatar

Maybe white blood cells? Do you guys smoke?

Clair's avatar

@jfos Nope. Wasn’t around smokers either.

dynamicduo's avatar

I have these sometimes, although it’s been quite a few months since my last ones. These are called tonsil stones or tonsilloliths. They tend to form in tonsils that have deep cavities or pits. The wikipedia article I’ve linked to talks about their possible composition contributors.

To get them out, I wait till they start becoming noticeable and annoying, and I try to get them out with the back of my tongue or using a fingernail (not the smartest thing, but oh well) or a strong cough.

A bit TMI, but they have one of the worst smells I have ever encountered, ever. Not really a surprise considering what they’re made of.

MindErrantry's avatar

Yep, that’s them. Thanks for the link, @dynamicduo!

wildpotato's avatar

@dynamicduo Wow, thanks! I would GA you a dozen times for that – the relief is wonderful. I had no idea you could poke them out.

LexWordsmith's avatar

Now that you’ve received a serious and helpful answer, i feel that the rest of us no longer have any responsibility to make our answer spaces useful, so my answer is: yes, it is tofu, and i hack it up with a knife when i dice it to put into a tomato sauce for my wife, who is a vegetarian.

casheroo's avatar

As soon as I read this, I thought of tonsil stones. I’ve never had one knock on wood

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I used to get them all the time. It only started after my tonsils started going to crap and I got strep and mono multiple times within the same year. They tended to be the worst when I was sick and I used to pop them out with a Q-tip – not smart, because they weren’t sterile, but they drove me insane. And yes, if they broke open the smell was terrible.

I talked to multiple doctors about it and although all of them knew what they were, they didn’t really know exactly why they formed. I was told that nothing could be done about it, except asking your dentist to remove as many as possible when you went it for a check-up. The unfortunate thing is that it can lead many people to have extremely bad breath, no matter what.

Which is why, on top of the fact that I was tired of getting sick constantly, I was more than happy to get my tonsils removed. I haven’t been sick since then and I haven’t had to deal with the disgusting little growths.

arnbev959's avatar

I’ve only had a handful my whole life, but I’ve always wondered what those were. Thanks for asking!

Frankie's avatar

I get tonsil stones too, but it’s very rare that I cough them up. I usually have to dig them out, and sometimes it’s difficult because those fuckers go DEEP inside the tonsil sometimes. And yeah, if you break them open the smell is awful. I’ve read about them online and supposedly they aren’t harmful at all, but can cause bad breath or sore throat, so some doctors recommend a tonsillectomy if it is severe enough. Your case doesn’t sound too severe, but if they continue to bother you you should probably get a referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon to at least talk with him/her about your options.

suzyq2463's avatar

Whilst I now feel at peace knowing what those are, I also want to barf after reading this discussion. Blech.

LexWordsmith's avatar

SuzyQzy, U got that right!

joewhiteman's avatar

You can remove them with a Dental Pick. Must be very careful. Stick it and drag it down. You can buy one at Walgreens or most any drug store.

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