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Throat Clearing
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Throat Clearing

For the past 4-5 years, I randomly have particles appear to be stuck in my throat, I am constanly having to clear my throat. Once in awhile, these particles will come up into my mouth, they are a yellowish-gray color and frankly, they smell like feces. It seems to be more apparent when I have drank more alcohol than usual. What would cause this?
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Thank you for visiting the Family Practice Forum.

What you are describing really sounds like an acid reflux problem. This is also known as "Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease" (or "GERD"). Alcohol causes an increase in the amount of "reflux", as does spicy food, smoking, fatty foods, chocolate, peppermint and caffeine. Literally, food and other food from your stomach is "refluxing" up your esophagus and at the worst times even into the back of your throat.

The first step you should take is to reduce the risk factors listed above. That means limiting caffeine, alcohol, fried and fatty food, losing weight and avoiding chocolate and peppermint.
Other effective treatments include
1. Elevation of the head of the bed 6 inches.
2. Use of an antacid (Mylanta/Maalox 30ml) after meals and at bedtime.
3. Use of H2 Blockers (Zantac/Tagamet) to reduce gastric acidity
4. Use of agents which decrease reflux.
5. Use a "newer" agents such as Prilosec, Prevacid and Aciphex which serve to greatly reduce the acid secretion of the stomach.

This condition is quite effectively treated in the hands of a good physician. If it goes untreated, however or is only partially treated by patients "self-medicating" with over the counter medications, complications such as esophageal stricture (narrowing of the esophagus), peptic ulcer disease, Barrett's esophagus (pre-cancerous change to the tissue of the lower esophagus), and possibly gastric or esophageal bleeding may occur.

I hope this helps!



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Avatar_n_tn
I am a 30 year old female who is experiencing the same type of reflux. I was not sure how to explain it to my doctor so I didn't.  I was startting to worry because it has been happening more and more frequent. I am glad its not just me.
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Avatar_n_tn
Another possibility other than reflux may be a tonsil infection. Some people have crypts in their tonsils where food collects and is decomposed by bacteria. The tonsils expel horrible tasting/smelling whitish particles. Sometimes you can see these white spots on your tonsils if you look at them with a mirror. Just a thought.
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Avatar_n_tn
I am also a 30 year old woman who has been experiencing the same thing.  I dont think its from spicy food, fatty food, smoking or drinking.  I think it may be a tonsil infection, as I can see white pockets on my tonsils.  Should I go to the Doctor and have them removed?  Is there medication instead?
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Avatar_n_tn
My husband has had these foul smelling white spots on his tonsils for years.  the Dr said it was when he eats food (pop corn, etc) that has small particles that get lodged in his tonsils and this is the bodies way of trying to attack the particles.  they develop this white covering.  he is able to use the dull end of his tooth brush to dislodge them, sometimes they come loose on their own.  Dr said to not worry about them.
Hope this helps.
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Avatar_n_tn
My ENT Dr suggested removing my tonsils but I don't have a sore throat or fever so I elected to keep my tonsils (if you think you may have strep throat, then definitely you should see your Dr). I also use a blunt edge toothbrush to dislodge the white particles and I use a anti-bacterial mouth wash to gargle with. Hope this helps!
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Avatar_n_tn
For the past 5 to 6 years I get a violent cough.It is so strong that I cough until I spit up some clear mucus,or throw up . i have had many different tests done but still no cure.  I was a smoker for many years however I quit about 10 years ago and chest x-rays as well as the other various tests have come up negative for anything.  
    
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Avatar_n_tn
I clear my throat alot and I am very curious of cancer.  I have a serious Allergy and I am semi-congested but I cannot stop clearing my throat, I don't know what to do?  I have mentioned to my doctor but she says it's from my allergies, I think it's more than that, what can I ask my doctor to do or what tests can I recommend to check.  She has checked my thyroid but it's normal.  Please let me know what I can do?
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Avatar_n_tn
My throat clearing started about 10 months ago. It seemed to come on overnight.  I have been married for only 15 months, and it is not helping things.  I have been to 3 different ENT doctors, had video x-rays of swallowing, upper GI's, had two endoscopies, one stretch, chest x-rays, seen a speech therapist, and nothing they have prescribed, suggested or done has helped.  I tried the "purple pill" Two different brands, I was on a heavy dose of Zantac and tums, yet nothing helped much.  It does not get worse laying down at night, I can sleep through the night most of the time.  It does not hurt, it is just annoying, like I did not swallow completely.  The video strobe showed that I had a slight delay in my swallowing, and one of the endoscopies showed that my esophageal sphincter does not always close properly or all the way.  I can keep from clearing, but it feels like walking around with food in your throat that needs to be swallowed.  If I don't clear for a while (30 minutes or so) It affects my voice as it becomes hoarse.  Then when I clear, I get a more significant amount of stuff (sticky saliva) up, then I am o.k. for a few minutes. Stress seems to bring it on more. Carbonated drinks make it worse, as does milk, sugar, flaky dry foods such as crackers and tomato sauce.  That seems to make it sound like Acid reflux, but some of the symptoms don't match up. At first we timed it, I was clearing about 20 times per minute.  Now I am down to a couple of times per minute, and more in short spurts.  It is worse after I eat.  In fact I often get food I am swallowing in my nose.  Quiet gentle clears don't do any good, and I often cough and clear at the same time, that seems to help.

I would appreciate any feedback from people with similar symptoms.
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Avatar_n_tn
My father and I have this same issue...once in a while. If the particles that come up are small and solid (no fluid at all) and smell disgusting (especially when you break them, or squash them in a kleenex) then they are most likely bits of food that have been caught in your tonsils, and rotted. The rotten food explains the smell.

If you can start to feel when you will cough one of these up...grab a flashlight and look in the mirror. Chances are you will see part of it sticking out from your tonsil. Although you will gag, you can sometimes get it to stick on the end of a Q-tip and remove it.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hmmmm, I can't seem to get my newly assigned HMO doctor to look at the swelling at the back of my throat,though it's clear to me it's never been like this before and has gotten worse over two months -- much as described here, feeling of not quite being able to swallow, white specks at back of throat, lots of throat clearing and all.

It's not strep or staph throat, I've had that knife-in-the-throat feeling and recognize it. It's a faint but persistent 'sore throat' feeling on one side or the other or both. And lots of little white spots, and lots of nasal drainage all the time -- can't lie on my back for more than a few minutes before I start coughing, have to sleep with my face side and downhill.

I talked about it at annual physical and he sent me to a gastroenterologist who doesn't look at backs of throats, only esophagus-stomach, and didn't find much with a barium swallow so wants to do an endoscopy.  He did look at the back of my throat but just shrugged.

Which kind of specialist these days is willing to do the old routine of holding down the tongue with a tongue depressor and actually looking back there?  Maybe take a swab?  Is that now the task of an otolaryngologist?  And how do I push to be seen by one?

I hate managed care and hurried medical attention with no time to put the pieces together.

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Avatar_n_tn
Dear rehm,
I do not have my tonsils, and do have GERD. The first s/s I get when things are starting to "flare up" is the throat clearing. At that point I take Aciphex 20mg, cut down on caffeine, and try to relax. Another s/s of GERD is a tightening sensation with difficulty swallowing. The Aciphex is great.
Relax, and follow your doc's instruction.
Oh, by the way, it's hard to find reflux as you must "catch it", so to speak on the films. It can come and go.
Good luck,
Rascal
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Avatar_n_tn
I must tell you that I struggled with finding a professional in the medical field who could answer my questions concerning the very same white particles that "sit" in the crypts of my tonsils and have an odor that is disgustingly foul.  As a kid, I can remember coughing them up during "recess" time.  I would even go so far as to picking them out of my tonsils because they caused such incredible bad breath!  When I had no luck finding someone that could cure the problem, I decided to find a doctor to take my tonsils out.  I can say that today, I am particle free and no longer have that lingering stinky breath. Also, I do not suffer from chronic sore throats anymore.  I will say that having my tonsils taken out at the age of 21 was extremely painful. It is when your older.  But if your symptoms consist of (1) little white smelly particles that look like rolled up tartar; (2) they sit in the holes in the tonsils; (3) they appear in your mouth when coughing (shaken loose from your tonsils) (4) and you have constant bad breath, see a doctor about having your tonsils removed.

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