Over 12 million Americans receive earwax treatment from their physicians each year. Many opt for alternative remedies such as ear candling and over-the-counter ear drops. Earwax is an irritant to deal with at times, but we all need it to remain healthy. And not all removal procedures are as effective as others.
Why Do We Need Earwax?
Earwax is essential to protecting the skin of the ear from water and debris that could cause infections. A balance of earwax prevents the risk of infection. An overabundance of earwax can plug up the ear, cause dizziness, ear ringing and trap bacteria that can become a painful infection.
Should I Use Ear Candling?
One of the most dangerous types of earwax removal is ear candling. The medical community strongly advises against this option. In this removal process, the cone end of the candle is placed in the ear canal and burned from the other end. Supposedly, this causes a negative pressure that draws the wax out of the ear. Attempting to remove earwax this way can lead to:
- ruptured ear drums
- ear canal infections
- temporary hearing loss
Has the U.S. Taken Any Precautionary Measures to Prevent Ear Candling?
In 2008, researchers looked into reports in the United States that stated ash residue and particles were coating the eardrum due to ear candling. Since this report, the U.S. FDA has taken precautionary measures to deter this practice. They have provided alerts to consumers advising against its use, confiscated products, and placed bans on the importing of ear candles. Despite these efforts, the U.S. still has over a thousand “specialists” that perform these dangerous procedures.
Is There a Safe Earwax Removal Solution?
Over-the-counter earwax drops, like Debrox and Murine, provide a safer solution. These drops consist of hydrogen peroxide and mineral oil, and can be found in most drug stores. However, medical professionals suggest not using this treatment if you have a perforated eardrum aka a ruptured eardrum.
To use earwax drops, first allow your medication to reach room temperature. With someone’s assistance, so you don’t put the dropper directly in your ear, drop approximately four drops into the affected ear. Be sure to lie on your side with the affected ear facing up for about five minutes. This allows the earwax to soften and absorb the drops. Repeating this process up to three times daily three to five days a week should help the excess earwax to fall out in pieces.
Ear drop wax removal is much safer than candling and allows the earwax to simply fall out of your ear without the risk of burns or infection. If you aren’t sure about the appropriate treatment, be sure to consult with your physician.