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Is ear candling safe?

Last update on Aug, 02, 2021

Ear candling is a form of alternate therapy that has been widely discouraged by health organizations like the FDA. The efficacy of ear candling is not backed by science and the procedure puts the patient at risk of injuries to the ear and face. [1]

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How do ear candles work?

Ear candling is an alternate medical therapy intended to remove wax from a patient’s ears. Manufacturers claim that ear candling helps treat discomfort in the ears and sinuses, rhinitis, sinusitis, “glue” ear, colds, flus, migraines, and hearing loss. The candle usually consists of a tube of linen coated in beeswax with additives like honey or essential oils.

The procedure includes placing a hollow candle in the ear canal and lighting the other end of the candle, usually while the patient is lying on their side. This allegedly causes negative pressure to build up in the ear canal to help suction the wax out of the ear. Other suppliers claim that the heat from the candle melts earwax so that the wax can leave the patient’s ear in the following days. [2]

The dangers of ear candling

The FDA does not approve the use of ear candles to treat any condition and warns that ear candling can result in serious injuries, even when used according to the manufacturers’ instructions.

According to the FDA, people who try ear candling to remove earwax are at risk for:
  • Starting a fire
  • Burning their face with hot wax
  • Accumulating candle wax in their ear canal
  • Bleeding
  • Puncturing their eardrum
  • Injuring their ear with hot wax
  • Delaying medical care for serious ear conditions

The Mayo Clinic also discourages the use of ear candling and claims that it isn’t an effective or safe treatment for any condition. The process can have the opposite effect of removing ear wax and can actually push earwax deeper into the ear canal, causing it to feel clogged along with other hearing problems. [3]

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Avoid unecessary problems

Reach out to a hearing care professional and discover the best ways to take care of your ears.

Ear candling case studies

A patient followed up with her doctor after a session of ear candling and found a large piece of candle wax lodged in her ear canal that had been causing hearing problems. The patient told her doctor that the candling practitioner had burned their hand on the candle and dripped candle wax into the patient’s ear during the session. The patient had the candle wax removed from her ear while under anesthesia, but she still suffered from mild hearing loss in her right ear that hadn’t improved by her follow-up appointment one month later. [1]

A study was conducted to test the ear candling manufacturers’ claims that ear candling helped remove ear wax by creating negative pressure in the ear canal. An artificial ear was used to measure pressure levels in the ear canal throughout a candling session. The study concluded that the practice did not create any negative pressure in the ear or remove any ear wax. [1]

In one study about ear candling, 122 doctors from the Northwest Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery were surveyed about their patients and ear candling. 40 doctors reported having patients that admitted to using ear candling, and 20 doctors reported having treated patients with injuries that resulted from ear candling. [2]

Other ear cleaning tools to avoid

The safest way to clean your ears is to have a doctor or ENT specialist do it for you. Most tools that are commonly used to clean ears can damage your ear drums and push earwax further into your ears. If you insist on cleaning your ears, avoid using the following tools:

·        Cotton swabs

·        Ear picks

·        Fingers

·        Bobby pins

·        Spiral tools

·        Keys

Your ears are self-cleaning and don’t typically need to be cleaned. Certain types of eardrops can be used to clean ears with the approval of a doctor.

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Be aware of the risks, and avoid damage

Ear candling is dangerous and shouldn’t be used as a form of ear wax removal. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, make an appointment with a Miracle-Ear hearing specialist today.

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