Surfers ear fysiology

Surfer’s ear. What is it and how to prevent.

I have been expecting this as I’ve been around water hobby’s all my life. When i started windsurfing the water has been usually really cold with strong wind. Usually the development of Surfer’s ear takes about 10-15 years of frequent exposure to cold water or wind.

I was diagnosed with developing surfers ear on both of my ears around six years ago. No operations done yet. Doctors are checking the development once in few years. Probably at least one of my ears need an operation at some point. The operation is easier to do before the ear canal is fully grown shut.

Surfer's ear anatomy

Surfer’s ear is not the same as Swimmers ear. Surfer’s ear is also known as exostosis, is an condition that occurs when the bone surrounding the ear canal grows thicker in response to exposure to cold, wet and windy conditions. A good indication of this if you have started to get water stuck in your ears more often and it’s harder to get it off. A good trick to get water off from an ear with small ear canal is to roll a paper towel between you fingers to make it stiff and pointy. Usually this condition doesn’t affect your hearing until your ear canal is fully grown shut. If your ear produces a lot of earwax it might affect your hearing earlier. You might get different kinds of ear infections more regularly.

My ear doctors opinion was that once this conditions has started to develop it can’t be stopped. If you continue to expose your ears to cold water and wind that doesn’t affect the growth speed.

To prevent Surfer’s ear earplugs are recommended. Use earplugs designed for water sports. I like the types that doesn’t affect your hearing.

Here is few examples for good earplugs:

Earplugs for surfers and swimmers
ADV. Eartune Aqua U, earplugs
Mack’s Ear Seals
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