Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — Ear Candles Are Just Blowing Smoke

Dear Dr. Walt,

Do ear candles work?

Wondering in Wyoming

Dear Waxy,

According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, the answer is no. They don’t spend a lot of time waxing poetic about it. They say that not only do ear candles not work, but that they are potentially dangerous.

Ear candling is a a technique that involves placing a hollow, cone-shaped candle into the ear canal and then lighting the end sticking out of the ear. But Mayo says, “Research shows that ear candling is ineffective at removing earwax and is also not an effective treatment for any other conditions. In fact, the technique can actually push earwax deeper into the ear canal.” Not only that, using an ear candle can lead to deposits of candle wax in the ear canal, burns to the face, hair, scalp, ear canal, eardrum, and middle ear, and puncture of the eardrum.

My advice? If you develop an earwax blockage, avoid ear candling. Try something inexpensive and simple like the Debrox Earwax Removal Kit.

Some doctors recommend triethanolamine (Cerumenex). But old timers swear by that a liquid stool softener (docusate sodium [DSS or Colace]) works like a charm. And, at least one study agrees with them and showed that Colace is more effective than Cerumenex for augmenting irrigation. In this study the researchers instilled 1 mL of docusate sodium fifteen minutes before irrigation and found it allowed tympanic membrane visualization in 81 percent of study participants.

And, if these don’t work, consult your family physician about the simple steps you can take to safely and effectively remove the wax.

Dr. Walt

This Q&A was originally published in the July 2016 edition of Today’s Christian Living.

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2016. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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