What Is Surfer's Ears? Understanding the Condition and Prevention

What Is Surfer's Ears? Understanding the Condition and Prevention

As the name suggests, surfer's ear is a condition closely associated with surfing, although it can affect anyone exposed to cold water and wind. It's a progressive condition that can go unnoticed for quite some time until it becomes a serious problem. Here’s what you need to know about surfers' ear:

Clear Description of Surfer's Ear

Surfer's ear, medically known as exostosis, occurs when abnormal bone growths form in the ear canal. These growths are the body's response to repeated exposure to cold wind and water. The bone thickens and causes the ear canal to narrow, which can lead to frequent ear infections, reduced hearing and, in severe cases, complete blockage of the ear canal. Yikes!

Recognizing Surfer’s Ear

The early stages of a surfer's ear can be hard to spot because the symptoms can be subtle. Here's what to look out for:

Frequent ear infections: A narrowed ear canal traps water and bacteria causing infections

Trapped water: You may find that water remains in your ears after swimming or showering.

Hearing loss: Sounds may seem muffled, especially if there's background noise.

Ear fullness or pressure: You may feel an uncomfortable sensation of fullness in your ears.

If you're experiencing these symptoms and are often in cold water, you may be developing a surfer's ear.


What to do if you suspect you have surfer's ear

If you suspect you have surfer's ear, it's important to see an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. They can examine your ear canals and confirm the diagnosis, often through a simple physical examination or hearing tests. Early detection is the key to effective treatment.

How to Prevent Surfer’s Ear

Prevention is by far the best approach when it comes to a surfer's ear. Here are some steps you can take:

Wear protective earplugs: High-quality earplugs, like Alpine's WaterSafe Pro, are designed to keep cold water out of your ear canals while still allowing you to hear important sounds.

Use a hood or cap: A neoprene cap can help protect your ears from the wind and reduce the amount of water that gets in.

Dry your ears: Dry your ears thoroughly after you’ve been in the water. If you're at the beach, be careful of sand and make sure the towel you use is clean.
Limit exposure: Reduce the amount of time you spend in cold water and wind if possible.

Safe and Sound

We love surfing and would be devastated if we were unable to enjoy the waves as much as we want. That is why we developed Alpine WaterSafe Pro earplugs. They offer an ergonomic fit that keeps water out without compromising comfort or hearing. The hydrophobic mesh filter prevents water from entering while preserving acoustic clarity. This feature is crucial for surfers who need to communicate with others or listen for potential hazards.

The Importance of Early Action

The progression of Surfer's Ear can be slowed or stopped with the right precautions. However, if left untreated, the condition can lead to serious complications that may require surgery. This surgery, known as canalplasty, involves the removal of the bony growths and is associated with risks and a long recovery period. Wearing earplugs to protect your ears while in the water, is the easiest way to avoid all this.

The bottom line: Embrace the Waves, Protect Your Ears

Surfer's Ear doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of surfing or enjoying water sports. With the right protection and habits, you can continue to embrace the waves without sacrificing the health of your ears. Alpine encourages all water enthusiasts to take hearing protection seriously. After all, the best wave is the one you can hear coming.