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One of the first warnings we teach our children is not to put anything in their ears. Then we grow up. When we get an earache as an adult, the pain can be so intense we will shove anything into our ear to release the pressure.

The pain is usually from wax trapping fluids in the ear. It also may be due to a bacterial infection or irritation from food allergies, such as wheat, dairy, corn, or peanut butter. The pressure should diminish on its own but can also worsen and result in perforation of the ear drum.

Natural remedies for clearing the wax include putting a few drops of lukewarm olive oil or garlic oil in the ear. A paste made from onion powder can also be applied to the outside of the ear.

I’ve found relief using the ancient and controversial method of ear candling, also known as ear coning. Found in health food stores, ear candles are made from cotton muslin or linen, coated in beeswax, and rolled into a narrow cone shape about 10 inches long. The cone is set into a hole in a paper plate and inserted in the sore ear while lying on the other. The top of the candle is then lit and allowed to burn to about four inches.

Proponents say the heat from smoke traveling down the cone warms and loosens the earwax. The method is not painful and less intrusive than removal by a physician.

The FDA says the practice is ineffective and risky. The product can pose serious risk of fire, burns, and injury to the ear, surrounding skin, and hair.

If you are interested in trying ear candling, be sure to do so with great caution, and preferably at least the first time, by someone with experience. Do not use ear candling on children, the elderly, or someone who cannot remain still.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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