SURFERS EAR [EXOSTOSIS]:
‘A common but preventable condition of the ear. Cold wind & water exposure creates bony growths within the ear canal; trapping water & debris which can cause painful infections. In advanced cases treatment is only by surgical operation’
WHAT CAUSES IT?
In colder water & prevailing wind conditions Surfers Ear becomes more common, the combination of wet skin layers & wind produces a refrigeration effect within the ear promoting blood to flow to the affected area resulting in the layering down of new bony growth (exostoses) which ultimately narrows the ear canal.
WILL I GET SURFERS EAR?
The more frequently you expose the ear to this environment the more likely it is that Surfers Ear will develop. Surfers Ear can become apparent after as little as five years of regular extreme water sport. The type, number & severity of the growths vary between individuals. The incident of Surfers Ear has increased with improvements in modern wetsuits design; individuals are in the water for longer, especially during the winter when lower temperatures & prevailing winds create a higher risk of developing this condition.
What does surfers ear look like?
Well you can’t tell by just looking at someone, but as soon as you start looking into the ear canal the full horror of surfers ear starts to reveal itself. The slow growth of bone starts to close the ear canal
Here’s a picture of Tim Ellman-Brown’s right ear, he’s a surfer from Newquay but he’s got some seriously messed up surfers ear! If you need to compare it with a normal ear then look at the inset photo which is the a normal open and clear ear canal.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE SURFERS EAR?
A feeling of fullness or difficulty clearing water from the ears after surfing or water sport is a possible indication of developing Surfers Ear as is painful or recurrent ear infections. Your local Audiologist or Doctor will be able to confirm the presence of Surfers Ear by a simple ear examination.