Can Ear Candling be Effective in Removing Ear Wax?

November 12, 2012

Can Ear Candling be Effective in Removing Ear Wax?

People who advocate the alternative practice of ear candling believe it helps in removing ear wax.

Ear candles are made from linen or cotton. The fabric is wound into the shape of a cone and then soaked in a wax. After this process has been carried out it has to be set aside to harden. Once this has hardened the hollow candle is placed through a hole in a plate which has been specifically designed for collecting wax. The candle is then inserted into the outside ear canal and the opposite end is lit.

Fans of the practice of ear candling say a low-level vacuum is created which draws out the ear wax and any other remnants of debris. After this has been carried out there will normally be a waxy, dark substance left in the end of the candle. For many people this procedure is very satisfying as they are told the substance which they are shown is from their ear.

Supporters of ear candling say it helps in removing debris in the ear along with wax and facial sinuses. When the tympanic membrane (ear drum) is intact and normal it divides the external ear from the middle ear. The eustacian tube connects the middle ear with the throat area.

There have been claims made that the smoke from the candles can make the ear canal dry. And also helps to fuel the removal of dead cells and ear wax along with pollen, parasites and mold.

There is no hard and fast evidence to support the claims. But the critics say that as a result of the ear candling the waxy, dark remains are from the candle and not ear wax.

There is the possibility of associated risks with ear candling such as a perforated ear drum, hot wax burning skin, hair and the ears. There is also a risk of the ear canal being blocked by the candle wax dripping.

Ear wax offers protection from fungus and bacteria to the ear canal. It also lubricates and cleans the ear and has a cleaning system which removes ear wax so people do not have to use other forms of cleaning. If a breakdown of the self-cleaning system happens, cerumen impaction can occur. It can cause hearing loss which is reversible, ringing sensation in the ears and dizziness. It tends to occur more often in older people. Should this happen contact the doctor for advice.

A study was carried out to check the safety and effectiveness of ear candling and ear candles. It was found that a vacuum was not produced by using ear candles. This small study also found that ear candling did not remove ear wax.

Ear candles are classed as medical devices by Health Canada and the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration). They consider this product may cause burns and injuries as well as risk of fire.

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