I would like to start a new saying: Surfers have terrible hearing. Well, this is only true if you are part of a large group of cold water surfers that have the great condition called, “ Surfer’s Ear.” Multiple exostoses, or Surfer's Ear is where exposure to wind and cold water causes the bone encasing the ear canal to grow and constrict the ear canal. These bony lumps will trap cold water from escaping the ear, thus feeding the abnormal growth and speeding up the exostoses process.
Is it deadly?!
If steps are not taken to prevent this condition, you will likely lose your hearing over a couple years of religious surfing. The more you surf, the more it grows. It takes years to accumulate enough bone growth to prevent hearing, but doctors have seen this condition in people from 17-90 years of age. As if cold water isn’t bad enough, this is just another fantastic thing to think about when you take off your wet suit and can’t feel your feet.
All I want to do is hear again!!
When you notice that conversations sound like a blur, and you constantly find yourself smiling and agreeing to questions you could not hear, it might be time to see a doctor. The procedure is great if you like having your ear drilled out with the possibility of permanent hearing loss. It requires drilling the excess lumpy bone down and will leave you out of the water for 1 month if you are lucky. It is not uncommon for complications to occur, so lets just say that 2 months out of water. This is enough time to drive any surfer insane. The worst part is you will be able to hear with crystal clarity how good the waves are while you are sitting on the couch with a head wrap.
I will do anything to prevent Surfer's Ear!
It is quite simple to prevent surfers ear, but once the damage is done it is irreversible. The easiest methods to prevent it is,
- Purchase a sleek looking neoprene hood.
- Get some stylish ear plugs.. .. . . . . . . . . . .or. . . . . . . . . . . . ..
- Move inland and forget about the greatness of the ocean.
I highly suggest the first two and maybe the third to leave the lineups a little less crowded. Although it is possible to get exostoses from over exposure to cold wind anywhere. So also before you decide to grab your snowboards off your snowboard rack, make sure you have some good ear protection and warmth.
If you suffer from this terrible condition please know you are not alone. Let us know about your struggle and leave a comment here for the surfer ear community!