Undiagnosed Symptoms Community
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Avatar universal

Smelly yellowish pellets coming up from chest/throat

For years now I've asked this question of  many doctors/dentists and it still remains to be answered...Quite frequently I get really bad breath for around a week which is followed by expulsion of very hard, yellowish in colour, very smelly pellets from my throat and/or chest. Sometimes it is followed by a bad sinus infection and /or bronchitis, but not always! It is very unpleasant and I would just love to get rid of this problem. I should also mention that I've had phlegm non-stop in my throat for as long as I can remember, I don't know if this could possibly be associated with this condition/problem...I am not a smoker/nor do I live in a smoke-filled environment.
60 Responses
Avatar universal
From my experience as a vocal coach, it is not unusual for this to occur.  Do you ever have a sore throat?  When the tonsils become inflamed/swollen, tiny particles of food can get trapped inside the small crevices of the tonsils.  They begin to smell, and eventually, you cough them up, or swallow them.  If you have chronic throat problems, your tonsils are probably always swollen...realize that this might be a cycle.  
Do you suffer from allergies?  If so, a daily allergy medication (allegra, claritin, there are lots of others...) may help eliminate the phlegm.  If you suffer from persistant drainage, you most likely have an allergy issue.  If not, then you could have a sinus infection--you should see an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat specialist) about these issues.  They can do a scan of your sinuses and see if you have any blockages...that would explain a lot of your symptoms.
Good luck, and hope this helped--MH
Avatar universal
I often get the same thing and have found no way of preventing it. I can feel the pellets in my throat for weeks but cannot seem to get rid of them, and eventually i will cough them up. I dont suffer from any sinus problems and i dont generally get a sore throat or produce alot of phlegm. It really annoys me and i would love to know how to prevent them.
Avatar universal
I have been searching online for 20 minutes and this is the first page I have come across that describes the problem I am having.  I am a habitual marijuana smoker of 14 years and I have had a significant phlegm issue the entire time.  But, a year or 2 ago tops, I started coughing up what seriously puzzled is talking about.  

I guess it is phlegm but it is an entirely different consistency from "regular phlegm."  Yes, more like pellets or small more firm balls kind of, but they smell so incredibly foul it's absolutely disgusting.  I usually examine them whenever they come up which has been kind of a lot lately, and it is just one of the most wrong smells ever.  Especially considering it is coming out of your mouth.  And yea, I brush the hell out of my tongue but it is so strong that it can lead to a subtle bad breath and horrible taste in the back of your mouth for a few days after the fact.  Don't touch them though directly, because then the smell will stick to your hand.  It really is very strong stuff.

But whats most puzzling (to me), is that the original poster doesn't smoke.  I assumed it related to my smoking habits, but maybe it still does.

I'm curious as to how/why there isn't more documentation of it, because to me it seems like an entirely different category of phlegm.  An advanced phlegm, it seems like.

Are any doctors or medical people on this site familiar with this?  I'm gonna go buy the strongest mouthwash available, but that probably still won't fully tackle this nasty stuff.

Any info IMMENSELY appreciated.
Avatar universal
The pellets are called tonsoliths. They are not dangerous. They are from pieces of food/phlegm getting caught in small crevices in your tonsils. They decay there, and eventually they are coughed out. Since they are decayed, they smell terribly. Some people are able to use a waterpic to get them out.
Avatar universal
wow thank you library gal.  i thought there was seriously something funky and wrong with me.

tonsoliths SUCK.  i wish there was a magic drink you could drink and they all would come out nicely and also lose their awful smelling powers.  they're really disgusting.
Avatar universal
I get these, too, and they are disgusting.
If you see them in the back of your throat but can't get them out, try pressing against your tonsil with a Q-tip.
Avatar universal
i am so glad came across this page my mom is a nurse and for years i tried to explain these stinky balls i was coughing up but she had no idea what i was talking about. I even said thesame thing that chronic phelgm said.the smell is so bad that even if you wash your hands it still stinks. I am not a smoker and neither is my sister who gets them as well.it is nice to know that other people kno wwhat i am talking about!
I do however get really bad sinus infections. I read that people who do smoke are inclined to get sinus infections as well because they damage the little hairs in the nose and throat that protect the sinus passages from bacteria that cause infection.
So maybe they do have to do with sinus problems, even if you don't naturally have allergies or sinus problems
Avatar universal
I've had this for years. I tried asking my dentist but not answers. Have notice an increase of web info in the past years. I use my finger and push on my tonsils and force them out every couple of weeks otherwise they build up allot and i get this constant bad breath and taste in my mouth. I want my tonsils out.
Avatar universal
I have been dealing with those foul stenched yellow "things" for years as well. The texture kind of reminds me of corn when I poked at it but then mushed up when I squashed it with a paper towel. And that is when the stink comes really strong, when it is mashed. YUCK!  I use a toothpick (with care of course) to take them out or sometimes I will press on my tonsils to expel it from one of the crevices.  I only get them in my left tonsil.  Not sure why that is.  I have also tried to explain it to a doctor and they have no clue what I am talking about.  I don't get bad breath from it but if I am overly talkative one will all of a sudden free itself from a crevice and be on my tongue and then I have to excuse myself somehow from a conversation and find a napkin.  It is more annoying than anything.  I HATE MY TONSILS.  THEY SEEM TREMENDOUSLY LARGE WITH HOLE LIKE IT IS THE MOON.  I actually had one while I was driving.  I can always tell when there is one stuck because I start to feel like I have post nasal drip and want to cough all the time.  So, I pulled over and took out my mirror from Japan that my friend gave me (it has toothpicks in it) and started to remove the yellow  foul stenched spawn.  I can't take it anymore.
Avatar universal
I have suffered with the problem for  years but I finally came up with a simple way to solve it. If your throat is not too sensitive to vomiting, try massaging  the  pellets out with your index fingers by starting  at a low point along the channel (there are several in each tonsil) then moving  up and pressing. They will fly out and stay on your fingers and  your breath will be fresh again. In my case the sensitivity to external touching became less with time so I hardly get the wretching problem now

glad to help                                                    
Avatar universal
Tonsoliths are not dangerous or a sign of ill health. The tonsils contain crypts or holes in order to kill bacteria. Normally the dead material is extruded and is unnoticed. Sometimes the pores or holes become pinched and the material remains in the spaces.
If you must treat this,  there is a pulsatile irrigator  called Hydro Pulse which comes with a throat attachment. This sends a pulsatile stream to  the tonsil and in effect crowbars out the material.
Avatar universal
OH MY GOSH! I am a nurse and have been wondering for years, what those little bastards are! I am so thankful for the info you guys gave...I had no idea what they were called, so I just googled "stuff that come up in your throat". Yay for google!!
Avatar universal
My doc says they are food that gets caught in your throat and tonsils, he said that if you gaggle with water vigorously after meals it will lessen the pellets but sadly there is no cure, you are not alone I know a few other people that get them to.
Avatar universal
I have tonsillithes for years. The first time I noticed them was one time when I had a sore throat.  I went to a MEA Clnic and the doctor took them out with a Qtip.  This is hard to do yourself because you can see in your throat while you are digging it in.  I asked my ENT doctor about them and he wasn't concerned.  He said it was normal. He was more concerned about my reflux.  But these things are so aggravating because I can feel them in my throat and I want them out!  I gargle with salt water vigorously when I start to feel them. Most of the time they come out, but not always.  I seriously thought about getting my tonsils removed because of them.  But I was told having a tonsillectomy at my age (55) would be rough and my ENT doctor would not recommend it.
Avatar universal
These things have been bugging me on my right tonsil for the past week.  My throat is sore from digging around my tonsil with my toothbrush (which doesn't work).
I read the comment by "diy" a few minutes ago, so I decided to try it.  I stuck my finger down the side of my tonsil as far as I could a massaged upward, the nasty thing came out stuck on my finger!!  Thank you "diy"!!  It was a relief and I didn't gag!  
I'm thinking of buying a juicer and start on a liquid diet and then I wouldn't have any food particles to stick onto my tonsils.  I'm so tired of them.
Avatar universal
I'm so glad I stumbled across this forum!  Every so often I get these pellets popping out with a cough and wondered what they were.  In fact this happened earlier tonight when I went to bed.  I asked my husband about them and he's never heard of it so I came downstairs to do some research!
I don't get bad breath so as long as they are not "abnormal" then my quest has ended.
Thanks to everyone who helped me to solve this.
Avatar universal
I have had post nasal drip for years, and would cough up these hard, foul smelling balls.

I tried gum, mints, and a ton of mouthwashes.

I saw this stuff at walmart called Smartmouth Mouthwash. I tried it.

In two days my sore throat dissapeared. I have not had a SINGLE tonsolith since I've used this product.

I won't ever be without this mouthwash again. I hope you try it and see if it works for you, too.
Avatar universal
I also get these 'pelets'. Ive always discribed them more like a bit of peanut but softer.  I get alot of phlem and get bad breath, my mates have confirmed this.  Moutwash, gum and mints is only a tempory cure...

I'd do anything to go out and not have to remember to bring mints with me
Avatar universal
I have had the tonsiliths for years and, as a result, had stinky breath. I couldn't take it anymore and got my tonsils removed. My ENT was supportive (key to find an ENT that will file it correctly with your insurance). It's the only thing that works. Period. Plus, I lost like ten pounds when I got them removed.
Avatar universal
by taking doxycycline. i dunno if was coencidence or not but i started gettin it bad for a while and took doxy for something else and after my treatment it stopped. it later returned i think from kissing or sharing a drink of my ex girlfriend. i then took doxy again later on for somethin else and again it went away. this also repeated a third time. this all happened in a 2 year period. im not a doctor or anything but thats just the pattern i noticed. doxy made it go away for me until i had contact with a person who had same thing and it came back. then after doxy it was gone. soo yea. just a pattern i noticed. no doctor i talked too could even tell me what it was i was experiencing til hours of googling i found out what it was even called
695042 tn?1241648862
sorry ahead of time for the long post! i too, have had a problem with these, however, my case hasn't been so cut and dry! i started with them in december 2006. i had a sore throat, looked in and saw one. went to the doctor, he said strep causes these things and gave me an antibiotic (test confirmed it). i had strep on more time in 2007 with no white spots. in february 2008, i had a sore throat, looked in, saw my whole right tonsil covered in them! went to the doctor, told it was a cold go home. 2 weeks later i was in the emergency room with both tonsils covered in white spots swollen so big i was spitting in a cup because i couldn't swallow! i had tonsillitis. i was put on an antibiotic. a month later i was back at the doctor with my tonsils still swollen, although less than previous, white spots and pain. i had strep again. put on more antibiotics. 3 weeks after that my tonsils never went down and i was referred to an ent. my ent fixed my deviated septum and cut down what he called my "pads" and tunneled out my nose. he said my tonsils should go down, this was in july 08. my left one went down. in september i started with a sore throat again, looked in, my white spot friends were back, only on the right tonsil that never went down. waited until the middle of october, hoping it would go away, went to see my ent. he looked in my throat with a light and told me i had food stuck to my tonsils, dig it off with my toothbrush, people over age 20 don't get strep, and my right tonsil still needs more time!!! by the middle of november both tonsils were swollen, covered in white spots, i was fatigued, muscle aches, sore throat, and developed a lump in my armpit. went to my pcp.  she said white blood cells get stuck in the crypts and that's what i see. she sent away a strep test anyways, and called me last wednesday with the results: no strep, i have a staph infection in my tonsils!!! i have been taking tetracycline 4x's a day since friday and i don't feel any better but my white spots are gone! i guess my point is that there is no clear cut answer as to what these definately are by just looking at them. yes, there are tonsoliths, yes, strep causes pus pockets, but if you go to 3 different doctors you'll get 3 different answers, and that *****!!
Avatar universal
i have this exact thing, but it seems to be coming from somewhere in my nasal passage. it happened twice where i felt something in there and sniffed really hard and these pellets came into my mouth. im sure it is the same thing because it is exactly what you are all describing. but it is def not coming from my throat.
Avatar universal
Hi, I don't know if this is the same thing as you are all experiancing, but I don't need to cough them out I need to snort it out really hard or else it burns the top of my throat?!!! One way I have found that eases them out is massaging  the top of my mouth on  the inside. But like the rest of you these things smell (and bad!!!), but mine are more flat and have a mucus around it!

Does anyone know if this is the same thing or is it something else?
Avatar universal
Like everyone else in this forum, for years I have this stinky little pellets appear every so often...sometimes slowly coming  up my throat and a few times just fly up into my mouth. The smell is terrible and has even had a mothball-like smell before!! ODD! I used to be a cig. smoker, marijuana smoker never had strep, but would get sinus&UR infections. I don't smoke anymore and still get these pellets occasionally. THANKS SO MUCH FOR THIS FORUM & GOOGLE!! I finally have answers and see that others have stuck their fingers in their throats an fished them out with Q-Tips too!! One time a pellet was as big as a tic tac! but that only happen once...I guess we should all be happy they are harmless enough with exception to the stench!! thanks again!
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