Ear candling is a complementary/alternative medicine practice commonly used for cerumen removal despite reports that not only fail to demonstrate efficacy but also describe potential adverse effects.
In a poster at Triological Society 2013, held April 2013 in Orlando, researchers at the New York Head & Neck Institute, and colleagues, presented presented the case of extensive and longstanding otologic injury resulting from ear candling.
They reviewed the patient’s medical records, complete audiological examination (CAE), computerized tomography (CT) imaging, operative report, and pathology findings. The patient was a 55-year-old woman who underwent “routine” ear candling seven years previously for complaints of ear stuffiness. According to the researchers, the hot candle wax fell into the ear, causing major slag burn to the tympanic membrane (TM). She developed immediate hearing loss and pain, and later, worsening tinnitus, otalgia, otorrhea, and taste disturbance. Conservative management elsewhere failed.
The investigators reported that otologic examination of the left ear revealed total TM perforation and deep debris within the middle ear. Further, CAE demonstrated left-sided moderate-to-severe conductive hearing loss; CT showed extensive soft tissue within the middle ear and opacified mastoid air cells. The patient underwent left tympanomastoidectomy. Surgical findings included total TM perforation, diffuse inflammation and debris in the mastoid and middle ear, facial nerve protected in bone, chorda tympani nerve that had melted away, and intact ossicular chain.