Ear candles are made of cotton or linen, wound into a cone shape and soaked in wax. To use them, you place the candle into the ear canal and light it. This is said to create a vacuum that draws earwax out of the ear. However, there’s no evidence to support this and critics such as Australian Hearing’s principal audiologist Janette Thorburn say the debris that’s left after candling is waxy candle remains,
not earwax. the wax to impact inside the ear. In addition, some of us are more prone to blockages for a range of reasons including: • Narrow or hairy ear canals. • A tendency to produce a lot
of earwax or hard earwax. • Skin conditions of the scalp. • Repeated ear infections. • Benign bony growths in the
outer part of the ear. • Age, because earwax becomes
drier as we get older. • Hearing aids. • Wearing ear buds or ear plugs for long periods can also interfere with earwax exiting but this won’t push it too far back into the canal.
HOW DO I UNBLOCK IT?
Earwax comes in various shades from yellow to dark browny-red,
and all are normal. The only concern is if it starts to itch, run or smell. Your ear canal is like a warm cave, so if you get a fungus or bacteria in there it can start multiplying and you may
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE AN EARWAX BLOCKAGE?
You may experience any of the following symptoms: • Mild deafness. • Earache. • Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. • Dizziness. • You may have a sensation of fullness in the ear but this isn’t always due to wax; if you have a cold, it could be mucous that’s causing the symptoms. The safest way is to buy ear drops from the pharmacist. Drip a few into the ear, lie on your side with the treated ear upside for a few minutes, then tilt your head the other way to let the fluid and wax drain out. You may need to repeat this a few times.
You can also soften impacted earwax with a few drops of olive oil, baby oil or hydrogen peroxide.
If your ears are really blocked, see a GP, who will syringe the wax out or refer you to a clinician who can remove blockages using a special curette or spoon.
It’s something everyone has to deal with but no-one likes to talk about – until now... So listen up, writes Beverly Hadgraft