Coughing up White Chunks From Throat with Foul Smell
Coughing up white chunks can be enough to set anyone into a panic, and quickly. After all, those chunks must be coming from somewhere, but where? Are they pieces of lung that are being coughed up? Are they hunks of throat tissue that are being expelled into oblivion? Does the mucus color mean anything? Rest easy, there is actually a really common cause of coughing up white chunks that is often accompanied by a foul and ominous, sulfur like odor. And, shockingly enough, it’s nothing serious, nor anything that can’t be treated non-medicinally and naturally in most cases.
Tonsil stones are the most likely culprit when odiferous chunks of white matter are being coughed up. They are nothing more than hard, compacted collections of various debris including food and bacteria that have been joined together by white mucus to form a hard stone. They collect in the various crevices and indentations in the tonsils, which afford many convenient locations for them to rest and form. Because of the bacteria that sits within them and festers away, far out of the reach of toothbrushes and mouthwash, a foul smelling odor often accompanies them. In fact, WebMD points out that in cases of unknown halitosis (bad breath) tonsil stones are often considered as primary sources. In many cases, they produce no symptoms, until dislodged of course, when many people who have them experience bouts of coughing up white chunks, as the debris balls are expelled from the throat. Sometimes, coughing up white mucus as a result of irritation and inflammation may also occur. Thankfully, in most cases, little to no treatment is required for the stones. Some people choose to just let them be, and unless they are particularly large or troublesome, there is no problem with this lack of treatment approach. Others choose to remove them at home, using swabs or picks to carefully dislodge the tonsil stones, as explained by WebMD. Salt water gargles can be used for relief of the discomfort that can accompany the stones. Yet, some feel the need to treat them with antibiotics, which can produce side effects.
One of the most common side effects of many antibiotics is a dry mouth and a dry throat. However, this can be one of the biggest contributors to white phlegm. When the throat is excessively dry because of activities such as screaming and yelling for long periods of time, the throat compensates by producing natural lubrication like white phlegm. This is also common in smokers, as noted by Wikipedia, which points out that phlegm production increases as dryness increases. This can mean that antibiotics can actually contribute to phlegm manufacture, although they do not contribute to the production of white chunks.
It’s not uncommon for people to associate coughing up white chunks with various illnesses of the throat, such as strep throat. This incredibly common keeper home of school children can indeed produce some unpleasant symptoms. A throat infection can include a fever, swelling, pain, fatigue and a loss of appetite. It does not, however, include coughing up white chunks. Although it is interesting to note that some of the symptoms of a throat infection can also be found in sufferers of larger tonsil stones, where swelling in the throat and ear pain are not uncommon.
Most of the time, there is little to worry about if white chunks appear in the byproducts of your cough. Tonsil stones are very common and not normally serious. However, if other symptoms are present that either don’t seem associated with tonsil stones like coughing up yellow mucus or difficulty swallowing, then it is probably worthwhile to schedule an appointment with a health care provider. While not normally serious, exceptionally large stones that are particularly symptomatic may require surgical removal. In fact, the only way to completely guarantee that no future recurrences of tonsil stones will occur, removal of the tonsils entirely is the only option. However, this drastic measure is typically reserved for cases where the stones are abundantly persistent, or they tend to be very large or produce very troublesome symptoms.
So, there is a very simple explanation for coughing up white chunks that smell absolutely terrible. The sulfur smelling chunks are merely leftovers that have accumulated in the many divots and ditches of the tonsils. While it may be alarming the first time it’s encountered, it’s normally not serious and requires little if any treatment. But, check in with a doctor if they are numerous or excessively problematic – because if so, a few days of recuperation with a whole lot if ice cream may be in your future.