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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

White spots in throat...

11/30/2006

Question:

On one side of my throat it is swollen and there are several white spots. I have no pain, it just feels as if something is stuck there. What could this be and how do I treat it?

Thanks!

Answer:

Well this could be many things.  Since you are not complaining of pain, it is probably not Strep throat.  My guess is that the white spots on the throat are probably bits of debris that can accumulate in the pits in the tonsils.  These little white granules can be foul smelling and very hard.  The medical name for them is tonsilloliths.  I find them commonly in patients with acid reflux.  Other symptoms that they will have are: frequent need to clear the throat, mucus accumulation in the throat (people often say that they have sinus drainage), occasional hoarseness, bad breath, a sensation like something is stuck in their throat, cough and possibly a burning or sour taste in the throat.  You do not have to have all of these symptoms to have acid reflux. 

Please notice that I never mentioned heartburn or indigestion.  You can have acid reflux without heartburn or indigestion.

Sometimes white spots on the throat are suggestive of thrush.  This is a yeast infection in the mouth or throat and is commonly seen in people who have been on antibiotics.  It is also seen in patients who use asthma inhalers.

I suggest that you get evaluated by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist so that the situation can be diagnosed and treated if necessary.

Good luck with this problem.

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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