The Surfing Injury You Rarely Hear About: Surfer’s Ear

Robert S. Hays

Even though every surfer has spun a tale or two about surf injuries—a board to the again of the head, a hand sliced on a fin, a dislocated joint just after a particularly violent closeout—these accidents are basically instead rare.

There is a surf malady a great deal additional typical, far a lot less talked about, and most likely considerably additional risky: exostosis (aka surfer’s ear). It’s a challenge that affects shut to one out of every a few surfers and, if untreated, can cause discomfort and critical listening to reduction.

The affliction is induced by extended publicity to chilly drinking water and affects both youthful and outdated surfers. When the ear canal is irritated around a long period of time of time, it responds by developing bone, efficiently narrowing the canal and causing listening to reduction.

Finally, this bone development gets so pronounced that it can guide to overall listening to reduction and can be dealt with only by chopping out or shaving down the bony development, a approach that calls for a six- to eight-week recovery.

surfer's ear
A healthier ear (best) vs. surfer’s ear (base). Photo: struna/Shutterstock

“As we have designed really very good wetsuits and surf year-spherical in colder and colder drinking water, the discomfort from the chilly drinking water is causing exostosis, or surfer’s ear,” suggests Dr. Ken Fujioka, a San Diego–based medical professional and avid surfer who has gone through surfer’s ear surgical procedures on each and every ear. “I never know why we never hear about it additional.”

In addition to primary to listening to reduction, the growths also trap drinking water and cause regular bacterial infections, which can be particularly unsafe for these shelling out prolonged durations in the surf. Now that wetsuits are extending seasons for a longer time and for a longer time, that hazard is amplified, even for more youthful surfers.

Surgical procedure is the only actual “cure” for surfer’s ear, but Fujioka notes that prevention is most likely the most effective form of treatment.

See these guys in the lineup sporting the earplugs? Several, if not all of them, are hoping to protect against surfer’s ear and some severe medical problems.

For these who believe earplugs impair listening to, a handful of providers, like SurfEars out of Sweden, have made surf-specific plugs that permit audio waves in while keeping the actual waves out.

Fujioka is unsure why there is so minimal publicity bordering the ear personal injury, presented its prevalence in the surf local community, but thinks that surfer’s ear will carry on to develop as the sport gets additional well-liked close to the world.

“I am shocked at the variety of surfers that do not dress in earplugs (my son integrated), and know surfer’s ear is no joke,” suggests Fujioka. “I have experienced the surgical procedures myself and I could not surf it was no enjoyment.”


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