Ear Candles are a homeopathic remedy for ear wax removal. Many people swear that they are the easiest way to remove ear wax. Unfortunately, they can also be very dangerous.
There have been many experiments either trying to prove or disprove the effectiveness of ear candles for removing ear wax. A simple internet search or search of YouTube videos will show numerous entries. To use an ear candle is that you place a protective paper “tray” around the bottom of the candle. You place the end of the candle in your ear canal and have someone light the wick. There is a small tunnel in the center of the candle. The theory is that the is fire at the top of the candle creates a vacuum in the hollow center canal that sucks the ear wax out of your ear. Now this will only work if the wax in your ear is soft and located close to the opening of the ear canal. If the wax is located deep in the ear, or has hardened, the candle will not create enough suction to remove the wax.
Advocates of using ear candles will cut open the used candle and show you the wax located in the center tunnel to prover that the candle did work. The people who wish to disprove the effectiveness of ear canals will remind you that a candle is made of wax. Their argument is that the wax found inside the candle is most likely the wax that has dripped down the side of the candle and been sucked into the tunnel. Either way, the amount of wax found inside the candle is not very much.
But why did I say ear candles are dangerous?
Some individuals elect to use them without placing a paper tray around the candle. There have been some instances where the hot wax drips down into the ear canal and can actually land on the ear drum. Besides the intense pain you feel when the wax hits the ear drum, the wax will harden and cause a temporary hearing loss. It will require an ENT to use a microscope and a hook in order to retrieve the candle wax off of the ear drum and restore your hearing. Another danger of ear candles is the fact that it’s a fire. You are typically laying down, probably on the sofa or bed, in order to use it. If you drop the candle or roll a little bit, the fire can touch the fabric, your clothes, or your hair and start a fire.
The biggest issue with the use of ear candles, is that in my experience, the majority of people who think they have muffled hearing because they have too much ear wax, in fact do not have too much ear wax. They have a hearing loss. If you are experiencing muffled hearing, whether you think it is caused by ear wax or not, your best bet is to see a medical professional for safe and appropriate wax removal and possible referral for a hearing test. If you feel that you might have a wax build-up or are having difficulty with muffled hearing, call our office to schedule an appointment.