Surfers Ear

You invest in the best surf board the summer and winter surf suit and you’re ready to catch the waves … WAIT!!

Due to wetsuit technology becoming so great you end up spending longer and longer in the water –  this is where you need to protect your ears.  Surfers ear is uncommonly talked about condition among surfers, until you experience the pain and ache in your ear, and see the damage that can be caused by the water doing a sport you love.

What is surfer’s ear?

The ear canal is made from the joins of a few bones of the skull. For some reason exposure to cold water makes these bones grow. It is thought that the greater the exposure the greater the growth, but this is only a theory and not proven. When these bones in your ear canal grow they form exostosis.  Exostosis comes from Greek language and means ‘new bone’. This bone grows into the ear canal making it narrower.

This a photo of what the audiologist (ear specialist) or ENT consultant may see when they look inside a patients ear that has surfers ear.

How can I tell if I have surfer’s ear?

Unless a doctor looks in your ear you can’t. As the ear canal narrows you’ll start to notice it takes longer for your ears to empty during or after a surf. That sideways shaking of the head in the car park to clear them may be taking a bit longer. Or perhaps your ears clear hours later at work?

Some people notice their ears feel full for a while after a surf and can even begin to ache. Aching can be a sign of irritation. Irritation is a stepping stone to infection. Bacteria and fungi absolutely love skin irritation. Especially in a nice damp and warm ear canal. You’ll know if you have an ear infection. Your ear will start to really ache. Ear ache is really unpleasant, especially if you have it with a (temporary) loss of hearing in the same ear.

A large number of surfers will have these boney growths in their ear canals (of varying size) and be completely symptom free.

How can I prevent it?

Wear earplugs.  We can offer a range of colours to suit your personality or your board, you have your wetsuit, your board and you’re protecting your ears – now you can go and enjoy the beach!!