Family Demonstrates Ear Candling Method For Removing Wax

StoryfulPublished: January 19, 2018Updated: January 20, 201814 views
Published: January 19, 2018Updated: January 20, 2018

After curing her earache with an ear candle, Shannon decided to try it out on her daughter who complained of having excess ear wax. The result – extraordinarily gross and a little satisfying! Credit: DOLL FACE via Storyful. It sounds like an old wives’ tale, but ear candling is an often-used method for removing stubborn earwax. Earwax is a completely normal bodily substance with helpful properties; however earwax can build up over time, causing temporary hearing loss.

Ear candling is an ancient practice said to remove ear wax from the ears. It is performed by taking a tapered tube made out of cotton and inserting it into the ear. The cotton has been coated in beeswax and is sometimes infused with honey or herbs. Ear candling is an obscure procedure in many parts of the world, there are places where alternative medicine advocates use the procedure to address many ear problems. The procedure supposedly creates a low-level vacuum that draws wax and other debris out of the ear canal.

The person undergoing the procedure lies on his or her side. A paper plate or other collection device is placed above the ear, and the candle is inserted through a hole in the plate into the ear canal. The candle is lit, and trimmed as it burns down. After the candle burns down and is removed from the ear, a cotton swab is used to clean visible wax from the ear, and oil is sometimes applied as a finishing touch. The process usually ends with a sort of “earwax looking substance’ inside the candle. The problem is that this material is likely a result of the process of burning the candle and not earwax.

The FDA has prohibited ear candle manufacturers or practitioners from advertising that ear cleaning candles can cure ear aches, sinus infections, tinnitus, headaches, vertigo or other health problems. It notified consumers and healthcare providers of its warning not to use ear candles as they can cause serious injuries, even when used according to the manufacturer’s directions.

No one really knows who decided that sticking a lit candle in your ear was a good idea, let alone who figured out that it could remove earwax. Apparently, this method goes back to traditional Chinese, Egyptian and North American medicine. Yet, there are claims that ear candling was used by the ancient Greeks, then popularized by the Hopi Indian tribe of the American Southwest. It's origins, much like pimple popping, remain a mystery. Ear candling is risky because the wax might melt and drip down onto the eardrum - even if the candle has a safety filter at the bottom.

Studies prove that the bit of powdery, orange crust that we think is earwax is actually candle wax. It's a byproduct of the candle melting into itself. Although some people go through the process of ear candling without significant injury, the practice requires time and money. There’s also substantial long-term risk. Possible complications of candling include: ear canal occlusions, ear drum perforations, secondary ear canal infections, hearing loss, ash coating the eardrum and burns.

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