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    Tips, Information,
    and Insights on
    Cough Relief and Causes,
    from the WebMD Ear,
    Nose & Throat Community

    In the WebMD ENT Community, members ask about small white kernels they cough up, sometimes with a gross taste or smell.

    Health expert Rod Moser, PA, PhD, says the tonsils help fight infection. They trap bits of bacteria, food, and other debris in the nooks on their surfaces. When things get stuck in tonsil pockets, or crypts, they sometimes form hard white kernels called tonsiliths, or tonsil stones.

    Moser says gargling after each meal can help prevent them. But having your tonsils removed because of them is extreme and usually unnecessary.

    Moser tells the Community that waxy tonsiliths do not come from earwax, since it's impossible for earwax to reach your tonsils. He also says that accumulated tonsil stones can cause bad breath, a sore throat, or enlarged or inflamed tonsils. So see your doctor if you have these symptoms often.

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