by Pallas Hutchison
My oldest daughter failed her hearing tests at school for three years (Kindergarten through second grade) before we got referred to a specialist. On the assumption that she was partially deaf, we had begun to work some simple sign language into our lives just in case it got worse over the years. The specialist assured us this was not the case.
My daughter is not deaf, she has an over-abundance of cerumen or earwax that blocked the ear canal and impaired her hearing. She was prescribed drops to put in her ears at night that would soften the wax. We came back a week later to have her ears flushed out. Afterwards, she took another hearing test and scored perfectly. Unfortunately, this is an ongoing problem and she will need to have her ears flushed 2-4 times each year.
Having the ears flushed out is something I have experienced only once in my life. Only once because I will not willingly undergo the process again. Even having used the drops as directed, ear flushing is extremely painful and messy. Hot water is sprayed directly into the ear canal using something similar to a dentistry tool. A cup is held under the ear to catch the water and wax as it splashes out. It feels like severe constipation in the ear canal. There is heat and pressure and pain. The wax blobs don't want to come out.
Forcing a child to go through this procedure multiple times is difficult. Despite her knowing the benefit, she fought against it as fiercely as she fights getting against blood drawn or vaccination shots. Another option had to be available. This is when I was introduced to ear candling.
Ear candling, for my daughter, provides quick and painless results. She can hear her teachers at school, her friends on the bus, and the family around the dinner table. After several years of doing this at home for my family, I began to look into the science behind it I hopes that I could offer other people the same relief that my daughter found. This could easily be added to the service menu of my massage practice. To my surprise, the science proving the efficacy of ear candling doesn't exist.
Most of the websites I've looked at that advocate ear candling fall into two categories: commercial or anecdotal. The commercial sites want to sell their products (ear candles and accessories) to make a profit. The anecdotal websites are similar to this blog; individual people sharing their experiences with minimal science behind it. The science websites tell a very different tale.
Not everyone advocates ear candling. In fact, ear candling is condemned as dangerous and ineffective by the Mayo Clinic, the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, the American Academy of Audiology... These are objective and academic resources that offer unbiased information and research studies. WebMD and other anecdotal sites agree that ear candling is an ineffective remedy for earwax removal. The FDA is also vocal in its opposition of this practice.
My research reminded me of the important role earwax plays in protecting the ear. Firstly, it provides waterproofing. Secondly, the acidity level creates an environment that deters bacterial growth. (WebMD) My assumption of how ear candling actually worked proved false. Multiple studies have proven that there is no vacuum and there is not enough reverse pressure to suck out sticky earwax.
Further exploration into the legalities and liabilities of offering this revealed that ear candling is specifically prohibited for massage and cosmetology establishments. I will continue to perform ear candling for my family because it works for us. However, I will not be offering this as a service through Oasis Massage.
Do you have an experience with ear candling? Which side of the argument do you support? Share your thoughts below!