With numerous health and wellness blogs suggesting do-it-yourself home remedies, many patients are skipping visits to their doctor’s office in favor of a do-it-yourself approach. However, there are misconceptions and concerns about many of these home remedies.

Ear Candling/Coning

This alternative medicine technique involves using a cone-shaped device placed in the ear canal while smoke or a burning wick extracts earwax and other impurities. In theory, a pressure vacuum is created to suction wax and debris out of the ear canal. Despite these claims, ear candling is dangerous. Researchers investigating the popular technique have found it doesn’t create negative pressure of any kind but rather produces external burns, ear canal blockage and perforated eardrums.

Sinus Rinses/Nasal Irrigation

While this home remedy is far more common and less dangerous than ear candling, it is still a procedure that can be dangerous if done improperly. The biggest risk is the use of improperly sanitized water. Water used during nasal irrigation should be distilled or boiled.

Cough Suppressants

There is little danger in some of the most commonly accepted home remedies for coughing. Honey, tea and chicken soup are proven solutions for soothing a cough. Patients should beware of remedies found in alternative or homeopathic wellness stores. It’s best to consult a physician before starting any regimen.

Earache Drops

Homeopathic earache drops are one of the safest home remedies. Most are made of citric acid, water, sodium and chamomile. These ingredients are oftentimes effective in relieving pain caused by an earache. This solution is temporary, however, and should not be used for those experiencing chronic ear pain or infections. The drops may be utilized as a quick fix but should never supplant the role of your physician.

Q-Tips/Ear Scrapers/Bobby Pins

Every skin surface needs a moisturizing agent (e.g., tears, saliva, nasal mucus) or oil. Otherwise the skin would dry out, crack, bleed and allow bacteria to start superficial skin infections. The ear canal has a ring of cerumen/wax producing glands on the outer rim. Many patients feel that they must clean their ear canals with Q-tips daily to remove the wax. Unfortunately, they are removing the ear canal’s first barrier for fighting infection and will be more susceptible to painful, itchy ears. Your Willamette ENT physician will examine your ears with an otomicroscope, remove any abnormal tissue and give you a treatment plan to address the fundamental problem.