What is Surfer’s Ear?

Surfer’s Ear

For those who love the water, and are adrenaline junkies, there is nothing better than gliding across the waves on a surfboard. Surfing is an exciting, exhilarating sport that often extends past the summer months. However, there is a downside for those who surf, in warm or cold water. Surfers can experience ear pain and hearing loss. While many may think this is just from swimmer’s ear, which surfers are also susceptible to. If the surfer is often exposed to cold water and wind, their condition could be a case of exostosis, also known as surfer’s ear.

While swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear canal skin, surfer’s ear affects the outer ear canal. Your body’s response to the harsh conditions is to protect the eardrum, which is tiny. The ear canal is approximately the same diameter as a No. 2 pencil. However, in the case of exostosis, surfer’s ear, your body produces bony growths in the ear canal. While your body thinks it’s protecting the sensitive eardrum, these growths don’t stop growing.

What are the Dangers of Surfer’s Ear (Exostosis)?

If left untreated, surfer’s ear can lead to several issues. These bony growths can continue to grow until it closes up the ear canal completely, leading to total deafness. However, before it gets to that point, the growths can trap water in the ear. Trapped water can cause pain, discomfort, infections, as well as hearing difficulties.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

While one ear is generally worse than the other, here are some of the common signs and symptoms of surfer’s ear:

• Difficulty evacuating water from the ear
• Plugged sensation in the ear
• Increased ear infections
• Hearing loss

Even though this ailment is known as surfer’s ear, it is essential to realize that this condition is not limited to surfers. Anyone who participates in an activity in cold, wet, and windy conditions are susceptible to this condition. Since exostosis is considered to be a progressive disorder, preventative measures must be taken early. If you find that you can’t pull yourself away from the water, make sure you take these precautions to help protect your sensitive ears:

• Wear a wetsuit hood
• Wear earplugs
• Wear a diving helmet
• Wear a swim cap
• Use ear drops to help dry out the caught water
• Avoid activity on frigid and windy days
• Keep your ears as warm and dry as possible

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