Surfer's Ear: Prevention and Protection

Surfer's Ear: protect and prevent with hoodies and ear plugs | Photo: Nils-Erik Bjorholt

Cold water and strong wind conditions may cause a surfer to develop what's known as "Surfer's Ear".

"Surfer's Ear", medically known as external auditory exostosis, is a progressive ear problem that causes pain and discomfort, and, in extreme cases, may require surgery

Frequent surfers have higher risks of developing "Surfer's Ear". Chill winds and low water temperatures produce a refrigeration effect within the ear, sending rushes of blood to flow to the affected area in attempts to warm it. This process causes the growth of abnormal bone structures in the ear canal.

"Surfer's Ear" can affect surfers at any age, in any part of the globe. If left untreated, the ear canal begins to close. Surfers with this condition who neglect to treat it tend to lose their hearing.

Removing the bony obstruction from the ear canal requires general anesthesia. Surgeons make an incision behind the ear to carefully remove the layered bone structure.

An Inevitable Condition?

Academic studies reveal that 80 percent of surfers who ride waves in cold conditions develop "Surfer's Ear" after 10 years of water activity or 3,000 hours of surfing.

But it is possible to protect and prevent "Surfer's Ear". Make sure to wear a full protection wetsuit in cold wind and water conditions. Wearing a neoprene hood can really be effective at keeping the head warm enough.

The water sports industry has also developed a wide variety of surf plugs with custom moulded ear protection for surfers, as well as other wave riders.

These earplugs are usually made of medical grade silicone and can be cleaned and reused. Contrary to popular notion, these plugs should not affect your overall balance while surfing. Buy a silicone ear plug protection.

Finally, do not forget to dry your ears after a surf session and keep them warm as long as possible.

Discover the best surf ear plugs for surfers.

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