Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Do ear candles help with your hearing?"
Saw these ear wax candles at a health food store. What do they do? Do they help you hear better?
As a physician I try to use the most up to date medical research to help guide my decisions and recommendations about how best to guide/take care of my patients. There is an article that was published in the Journal of Laryngology and Otology in 2004 (Jan 118: 1 1-2) that states that not only are ear candles non-effective, but they can potentially cause significant harm as they have been associated with ear injuries. I put the reference in here in case you want to read about it for yourself by looking it up. The theory behind the candles is that patients develop waxy cerumen impactions in their ears which will block their hearing. (This is a known fact, and it is true that you can have a conductive hearing loss from a cerumen impaction). The candles (according to the manufacturer) are supposed to melt the ear wax and draw it up into the candle as it is burning. This is a great theory, but in reality it just doesn't happen. On top of that, the hot air from the candle, hot melted wax, or the fire itself all can cause significant permanent damage to the ears which is not worth the risk in my mind. So why do they keep selling them? To the best of my knowledge (and I would be shocked if they did) the company did not have to go through a governing board like the FDA to market their product. Thus they don;t have to actually prove that it works, or that it won't harm patients. I realize that I am being quite harsh on this product, but anytime that there is risk of injury without any significant therapeutic benefit, I have to strongly discourage its use. If you have a problem with ear wax build-up, I would recommend making an appointment with an otolaryngologist (ENT) to discuss your management options, and to be examined. I hope that this answers your questions.
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