Listen Up: Avoid Ear Candles to Avoid Serious Injury

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Listen Up: Avoid Ear Candles to Avoid Serious Injury, SeekytSpas across the country are offering an alternative treatment for excess ear wax; many even consider it a luxury. Ear candling, also called ear coning or thermal-auricular therapy, involves sticking a hollow lit candle into the ear canal. Supporters of the method claim that the candle draws fluid, toxic, and excess wax from the ear in a safe, natural fashion. They also claim ear candles can help treat sinus infections, sore throats, headaches, colds, flu, and hearing loss.

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However, medical experts have issued warnings about ear candles, telling consumers not to use them. WebMD, a widely trusted website for all things medical, warns of the risks of ear candling, including burns on the face and ear, getting your ears plugged by wax, puncturing your eardrum, injuries from dripping wax, bleeding, and risk of fire. Experts’ concerns are well grounded, with many instances of serious injury resulting from this controversial method. For example, in January 2005, Elizabeth Bromstein of Toronto underwent a $25 ear candling session. Four months later, a doctor was finally able to remove the candle wax from her ear canal, though she was left with ringing in her ears that may be permanent. Of even more concern is the tragic case of Ardean Selby of Bethel, Alaska, who died in a fire caused by ear candling in 2005. Five others were injured.

So dangerous is the treatment that the FDA has issued a warning against ear candling. Not only does the treatment carry a serious risk of injury, the FDA says there is “no valid scientific evidence to support the safety or effectiveness of these devices for any medical claims or benefits.” Of particular concern to the Administration is the use of ear candling on children and infants, an advertised and promoted “benefit” of the product. The FDA has placed ear candles on their watch list, and they strongly urge anyone who has been injured by the treatment to report it to the MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program.

From the perspective of seasoned injury attorneys, it seems clear that ear candle manufacturers and spas that offer the treatment are setting themselves up for a lawsuit. In fact, in 2010, the FDA sent warning letters to three ear candle manufacturers asking them to stop making their product and selling them as legitimate medical treatments. When the Holistic Candlers and Consumers Association sued the FDA over a violation of civil rights, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed the lawsuit. However, although the FDA has been very vocal, ear candles are still being manufactured in this country, and spas are still offering the treatment. For now. We predict that before long, a successful medical lawsuit will be waged against one of these companies, and the treatment will be snuffed out in this country.

About the Author:

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Lawlor Winston White & Murphy. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”

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Listen Up: Avoid Ear Candles to Avoid Serious Injury, Seekyt
General Contributor
Janice is a writer from Chicago, IL. She created the "simple living as told by me" newsletter with more than 12,000 subscribers about Living Better and is a founder of Seekyt.