Just Started Surfing? Learn About Surfer's Ear & How To Prevent It

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If you have just decided to take advantage of living close to the water by taking up surfing to have fun and get some exercise, then you are likely doing all you can to learn surfing techniques. However, you also need to learn about the common health hazards of surfing, including surfer's ear, also called exostosis of the external auditory canal. This disorder is unfortunately common among surfers and is believed to affect up to 80 percent of them. 

Read on to learn more about Surfer's Ear and how to prevent it. 

Surfer's Ear or Exostosis of the External Auditory Ear Canal: What it is and Why it Occurs

Surfer's ear develops when a bony growth develops in the ear canal of a surfer. Not only can this growth begin to impair hearing, but water can get trapped behind it, which can lead to frequent ear infections. 

It is believed that this condition occurs due to a surfer's ears constantly being exposed to both cold water and wind, although why this leads to a bony growth in the ear is not completely understood. 

Severe cases of surfer's ear cannot only lead to hearing loss, but also complete deafness in the affected ear(s).

While there are surgeries to remove the bony growths that cause surfer's ear, you can avoid developing these growths by taking steps to prevent them. 

How to Prevent Surfer's Ear

There are three main ways to prevent Surfer's Ear. It is important to use not just one, but all doctor-recommended Surfer's Ear prevention tips because this condition is not fully preventable. However, you can lower your chances of developing the condition by utilizing all of the prevention methods you can. 

1. Wear a neoprene hood at all times while surfing. Wearing a neoprene hood that covers your ears will keep your ears warm and keep the wind from hitting them. 

2. Dry and warm your ears after surfing. When you are finished surfing for the day and before you take breaks from your new sport, dry your ears well. You can dry them by directing a hair drying on its lowest heat setting at them for a few minutes and/or make your own ear-drying solution that consists of 50 percent rubbing alcohol and 50 percent vinegar, and then insert several drops into each ear canal after you take a break from surfing. 

3. Wear good earplugs made specifically for Surfer's Ear prevention. Wearing surfer ear plugs is the best way to keep water completely out of your ears while surfing. You may be hesitant to wear earplugs while surfing due to a suspicion that you will not be able to hear anything while surfing and/or that they will disrupt your natural balance and lead you to fall off your surfboard. However, when you choose ear plugs made specifically for surfers, you can look forward to no balance disruption and the ability to still hear the water and waves. 

If you have just begun surfing, then realize that you have a real risk of developing Surfer's Ear sometime in the future. Take all the steps you can to prevent this condition that can lead to hearing loss, including wearing good surfer's earplugs.