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Ear Candling: Potential Dangers and Hearing Loss

Ear candling: a woman lying down with a candle over her ear

Ear candling is a controversial alternative therapy whereby a hollow, cone-shaped candle is inserted into the ear canal and lit at the other end. Proponents claim that the heat creates a vacuum effect, drawing out earwax and impurities. However, the practice has been widely criticized by medical and health care professionals due to the high potential risks of burns and injuries and lack of proven benefits.

Why Do Some People Get Ear Candling?

Claims about ear candling benefits have been around for centuries but have gained recent popularity on the internet. Many websites and blogs promote ear candling, and videos of individuals getting ear candles are shared on social media. These videos and posts make claims about the benefits of ear candling, such as improved hearing, relief from earaches and increased energy levels. However, there’s no scientific evidence to support these claims.

What Are the Risks?

From an audiologist’s perspective, ear candling poses significant risks. First, the melted wax from the candle doesn’t get “drawn out” as proponents suggest; instead, it can drip deeper into the ear canal, causing blockages and even burns. The heat from the candle can also cause injury to the delicate skin and structures within the ear, including the eardrum. Additionally, ear candling may introduce debris or candle residue into the ear.

Most concerning about ear candling is the potential for hearing loss. The eardrum is a fragile membrane and can easily be damaged by the heat, wax or ash generated during candling. Even minor injuries to the eardrum can result in temporary or permanent hearing loss, as well as other auditory issues like tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and dizziness.

Are There Safer, More Effective Methods of Ear Wax Removal?

Audiologists strongly discourage ear candling and recommend safer alternatives for managing earwax buildup. The ear is a self-cleaning organ, in most cases, naturally expelling excess wax. However, if you’re experiencing discomfort due to a wax blockage, consult a qualified healthcare professional, preferably an audiologist, family physician, or an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.

Audiologists are specifically trained to use techniques such as irrigation, suction, or manual removal with specialized tools to safely clean the ear canal. These methods are performed by skilled and specially trained professionals who can accurately assess the situation and avoid potential damage. Over-the-counter ear drops, as suggested by a healthcare provider, can also help soften earwax, so the wax can more readily, and naturally, evacuate the ears.

Hearing Care and Audiologist Services in Alberta

At Soundwave Hearing Care, our team of audiologists and hearing aid practitioners is committed to the hearing health of our patients. We offer hearing tests, hearing aids and other comprehensive audiology services. Contact us today to make an appointment at our hearing clinics in Calgary, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie or High River.

All the blogs are reviewed and edited by our clinic's lead audiologist, Dr. Anne Wooliams. Dr. Woolliams is an experienced audiologist specialized in pediatric audiology, auditory processing, and tinnitus/sound sensitivity therapy. She is dedicated to providing top-notch hearing care and helping her clients improve their language and communication abilities. Dr. Woolliams' expertise in literature and linguistics, combined with her passion for helping people improve their language and communication, make her an incredibly valuable asset in the field of audiology. Learn more about Dr. Woolliams.