I have excessive ear wax, and it seems to be getting worse. Is there something with my diet that I can change that could help? Can ear candling help?

Earwax, created by a mixture of secretions from glands within the ear, prevents dirt and dead skin from entering the ear canal. About 12 million people a year in the U.S. seek medical care for impacted or excessive cerumen, commonly known as earwax, according to The American Academy of Otolaryngology.

An overabundance of earwax usually is an indication of a chronic sensitivity, either to food or something in the environment, according to Dr. Mark Stengler.

Environmental causes, such as mold, dust and pollen, can be reduced by taking fish oil, vitamin C and quercetin. These supplements reduce the response of histamine, a chemical produced in the body that triggers allergy symptoms, including the production of earwax. Lack of essential fatty acids leaves earwax stiff and more likely to get backed up according to Brad Weeks, M.D.

Common food sensitivities that often contribute to excessive earwax include cow’s milk, wheat, soy and sugar. The authors of “Smart Medicine for Healthier Living” suggest minimizing your intake of caffeine, chocolate and sodium as well, if you have a tendency to excessive cerumen. Ear candling treatment, is also known as ear coning or thermal auricular therapy. This process involves inserting a lit tube of fabric coated beeswax or paraffin, known as a “candle,” into the ear until the “candle” burns down to a marked level. While there are many benefits to ear candling, removing earwax is not one of them and therefore I do no recommend ear candling for removing excessive earwax. You should never attempt to remove earwax buildup yourself.

Doing so can cause major damage to your ear and lead to infection or even hearing loss. I would suggest contacting an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist to perform cerumen removal and explain how you plan to change your diet for possible benefits and prevention of excessive build-up in the future.

Thought for the week: The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant; email her at docphylis@gmail.com. This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.