Many people try to avoid going to the doctor if at all possible. However, sometimes symptoms that appear to be harmless may be associated with a much more serious condition that requires a doctor’s visit. One good example of such a symptom is white spots on the throat.
White spots on the throat are often caused by a condition known as tonsil stones. Tonsil stones appear as clumps of whitish or yellowish material and are often located in crevices of the tissue of your throat. If the white spots on your throat are accompanied by bad breath, a feeling of something being caught in your throat, or difficulty swallowing, you may have tonsil stones. Tonsil stones generally are not associated with redness, swelling, or pain of the throat. You can dislodge tonsil stones yourself with a Q-Tip or finger. No doctor’s visit is necessary to take care of tonsil stones.
There are other causes of white spots on the throat that are basically harmless. Taking aspirin frequently can cause the appearance of white spots that resemble burns, particularly if you chew the aspirin instead of simply swallowing it. An overactive immune system can result in the formation of white spots on the throat called lichen planus. Lichen planus has a lattice-shaped pattern and requires no treatment unless it begins to become painful.
White spots on the throat can also be caused by a number of bacterial infections. Strep throat is one of the most common of these bacterial infections. Strep throat can only be diagnosed by a doctor, but if the white spots are accompanied by a red, raw, or scratchy throat, fever, and swollen lymph glands, you may have strep throat. You should schedule a doctor’s visit to be tested for strep. If you test positive for strep throat, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to cure the condition.
More rarely, syphilis infection will be the cause of white spots in the throat. If such spots turn red after a couple of weeks or are accompanied by sores on other areas of the body that may have been involved in sexual contact, rash, general malaise, and joint pain, you should see your doctor to be tested for syphilis. Like strep throat, syphilis infections are treated with antibiotics.
If you smoke or chew tobacco, white spots in your throat may be leukoplakia. Most cases of leukoplakia turn out to be benign, but about 20 percent of them result in cancer. A visit to the doctor in this case is therefore very important.
There are many causes for white spots on the throat, some harmless and others quite serious. When in doubt, place a call to your doctor and explain any other symptoms you are having along with the white spots. Your doctor can perform a number of tests to diagnose the cause of white spots in your throat, which will allow you to get the proper treatment for serious conditions or to rest easier in the knowledge that your condition is harmless or temporary.