Surfer's ear is a common condition affecting the hearing of those who go in the sea regularly. Whether this for surfing, swimming or kite surfing they are all at risk of surfer's ear if they don't take precautions. The body reacts to the cold by forming tiny bony nodules around the opening of the ear. These slowly grow over the next few years, narrowing the opening. This leads to conductive deafness and a higher rate of ear infection in sufferers. To avoid this they need to protect themselves.
Having not used protection, the only treatment for the condition is surgery. The extra bone is chiselled or drilled away by a surgeon under local anaesthetic. ZenPlugs wanted to find out how often surfers needed to have the operation. They carried out a survey of 203 avid surfers who were contacted using social media and a hospital staff newsletter. Surprisingly, in this group 6% of the surfers had the operation at some point in their lives. This comes to 1 and 17 surfers. Several of them had even had it more than once. Having the operation does not protect against the condition coming back if protection is not used.
The research also showed that wearing surfing earplugs and a surfer's neoprene cap more than 90% of the time prevented the condition.
Summary. One in 17 surfer's have had their ears chiselled or drilled. If you don't want to be one of them wear your surfer's cap and ear plugs more than 90% of the time.
You may of heard of surfers ear?
However it is not just surfers that the condition effects and is something that all water users need to be aware of.
In the UK it is a major concern for Kitesurfers and Windsurfers as it is not just cold water, but the cold wind which can cause 'Surfers Ear'.
I personally always wear ear plugs when I'm on the water as I know a lot of people who have had to have the operation which is not only painfull but puts you off the water for 3 months!
Check out some more info from Zenplugs below-
Warning: Surfers Are 17 Times More Likely To Go Deaf If They Don't Protect Themselves Against Surfer's Ear
If you are a keen surfer you may well have heard of surfer's ear. It is a common disorder among people who have been surfing for several years. Nobody really knows why but the bone of the outer ear canal creates small lumps which gradually get bigger and close the camal over. This results in deafness and more ear infections.
Research by ZenPlugs shows that most surfers are aware of the need to wear ear plugs. Unfortunately the majority do not know that they also need to wear a surfing cap as well. This is because wind or cold water on the bone behind the ear can have the same effect as on the ear itself.
ZenPlugs wanted to find out just how effective wearing both surfing ear plugs and cap are at preventing the problem. They carried out research using a questionnaire and received 203 responses. This showed that people who wear both more than 90% of the time were 17 times less likely to develop the condition. In fact, all those in the survey who had been wearing them more than 90% of the time were free of surfers ear. In comparison, people who only wore them 40% of the time were developing the condition after 11 years of surfing on average.
It is a common misconception among surfers that they do not need to wear protection against surfer's ear during the summer or in warm climates. It is still possible to develop surfers ear under these conditions.
The reason for this is due to the cooling effect of sea water evaporating from the skin of the ear and the mastoid bone behind it. Even if the sea and air temperature are warm the temperature of the skin may drop below the temperature as a result of evaporation. Even the wind on it's own can be enough to chill the skin and the underlying bone. This means that protection should be worn all year round and in all climates.
Summary. If you want to protect yourself against surfer's ear make sure you wear your surfing earplugs and cap more than 90% of the time. Keep them on all year round and whatever the climate and you will be free of the condition for many years to come.