Proponents of ear candling claim that this procedure can remove earwax buildups, clear up sinus congestion, improve hearing problems, or even reduce migraines or other headaches. But is there any truth to these claims? And even more importantly, is ear candling safe?
These are some of the questions we’ll look at today from the perspective of a hearing health professional. But first, let’s learn a little more about the procedure in question.
What is ear candling?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ear candling is a procedure performed by individuals such as beauticians, alternative therapists, and even patients themselves. The primary intent is to remove earwax, although many candling practitioners claim the procedure has other benefits such as the ones mentioned above.
The entire process can take between 30 and 45 minutes. The patient lies on one side with the affected ear facing upward. A hollow candle is then placed inside the external auditory canal. The practitioner then lights the candle and allows it to burn for about 15 minutes.
According to ear candling proponents, the heat from the burning candle creates a vacuum effect. This reportedly draws out wax and other debris from the ear in a painless manner.
Is ear candling safe and effective?
Currently, ear candling remains a controversial practice and has not received much validation from many medical professionals. That’s because there has not yet been enough research completed to fully determine the safety and effectiveness of the procedure.
In fact, there is a significant lack of scientific evidence that would support the effectiveness of ear candling in terms of removing wax or improving hearing health. There have also been reports of burns, punctured eardrums, and other injuries associated with this procedure. With this in mind, the American Academy of Otolaryngology and other medical organizations strongly discourage the use of ear candling due to the lack of evidence and potential risks.
With all that said, it’s important to realize that many people do still believe in the practice. In fact, a husband and wife that recently visited our Scottsdale audiology office had a spirited discussion about this very topic. One of them believed ear candling was the best method for earwax removal and the other thought it was pure witchcraft!
Watch this video to learn more about this couple’s debate. Plus, you’ll see how much earwax was left after an ear candling procedure:
What is the safest and most effective earwax removal method?
It’s important to remember that earwax does play an important role in ear health. That being said, it’s also good to know that an earwax buildup can cause pain, discomfort, and even hearing loss. So, removal is sometimes needed but NEVER use a Q-tip or other foreign object to remove earwax on your own.
Instead, we recommend earwax removal by a qualified health professional such as an audiologist. Our Mesa and Scottsdale audiologists typically use one of two methods to remove an earwax buildup:
- Manual method – A curette, which is a small hand-held instrument, is used to gently remove earwax from the ear canal. Alternatively, the audiologist may employ forceps or suction to eliminate the accumulation. By using a video otoscope, the doctor can visually inspect the ear canal to ensure precision and monitor the amount of remaining wax.
- Irrigation method – A water-filled syringe is used to gently soften and flush the earwax buildup out of the ear canal.
Depending on the size and condition of the earwax buildup, both methods can be used during the same earwax removal appointment.
Professional earwax removal in Mesa and Scottsdale, AZ
As hearing health professionals, we believe more research needs to be done to prove the safety and effectiveness of ear candling. In the meantime, we continue to recommend professional earwax removal as the safest and most effective way to get rid of excess earwax or an earwax buildup. For most patients, it’s also quick, with a single appointment often only taking about 15 minutes.