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A Burning Question

keskritt at sprynet.com keskritt at sprynet.com
Sat Apr 19 15:43:16 EST 1997

To All Audiologists:

Recently, I have had many patients coming into my office who have had their ears "candled".  I am not sure if this practice 
is widespread, but in Southern Ontario, it is becoming more commonplace.  Ear candling basically is the practice of placing 
a burning candle in someone's ear, which apparently is to help remove wax.  Mind you, not any ordinary candle is used, but 
a special one which is supposed to pull the ear wax up inside it.  Once done, the ear candler breaks the candle open and 
shows you how much "wax" was in your ear.  This procedure is done by people who are "certified" ear candlers, (i.e., 
naturopaths, etc.)  who take a course(?) on the matter. 

My problem is with this -  these people advertise in the newspaper, implying that the ear candling can : 

-safely remove ear wax
-"cure" tinnitus
-"cure" hearing loss
-help your sinuses
-"cure" ear infections

I have had many patients go for candling with the false hope that it will cure their sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus.  
My patients end up paying for several "treatments", which are very costly, with no results.  In fact, when I look in their ears, 
there is still impacted wax which needs to be removed by a physician. 

To complicate matters, I cannot believe the false information imparted by the ear candlers.  For some reason, they believe 
that cerumen is actually made in your sinuses, and collects in the  Eustachian tube.  I don't know how many times I have 
had to explain to people that it is anatomically impossible to have wax in your Eustachian tubes, and if you do, something is 
drastically wrong!  

So, :  has anyone come across similar situations?   
Has anyone had patients injured by this procedure?
Is there any research out there indicating any benefits to ear candling?
Is there any research out there indicating definite risks, or documenting injury?
Who trains these people, and where do they get there anatomy courses?

Can the government do ANYTHING to prevent this type of stuff from going on?  (F.Y.I., here in Ontario, our government 
regulates us profusely, and as far as I know, there is nothing to stop this from happening.)

You may respond through the newsgroup, or e-mail me directly at keskritt at sprynet.com.

K. A. Eskritt, M.Cl.Sc., Reg CASLPO

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