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Surfers Ear: What? How? Why?

January 30 2020 Categories: Products, Tips and Tricks

You may have heard the term ‘Surfers Ear’ increasingly thrown around lately. You may even have it and not know it, but what exactly is it? Surfers ear; or Exostosis as it is known medically, is a boney growth that forms in the ear canal. This is most often caused by cold water and wind – the combination of both also accelerates this exostosis due to the wind chill factor. Due to advancements in wetsuit technology we are now surfing in colder waters, and in more extreme conditions, causing surfers ear to become an increasingly prominent issue.

Essentially this boney growth is the bodies defense mechanism to protect the ear drum from cold wind and water. The colder the elements, the more accelerated the exostosis becomes. If left untreated, the bone can close up the entire ear canal leading to significant hearing loss. Surfers ear is progressive, meaning once it gets going, the bone is only going to grow more.

Picture of bone growth in ear


A common symptom of Surfers Ear is water becoming trapped and struggling to empty out. As the ear canal becomes narrower, it becomes more difficult for the water to get out, leaving you with a frustrating temporary reduction in hearing.

Another key indication of surfers ear is a high frequency of ear infections. Again, as water becomes trapped in your ear, the wet conditions will promote the growth of fungus and bacteria. Thus increasing the likelihood of infection. It is most noticeable in people who predominantly surf in colder climates, then travel to warm destinations with more water pollution.

How To Prevent Surfers Ear:

As much as we’d all like to prevent it by moving somewhere warm, this is NOT a realistic solution… The most obvious and easy way to prevent surfers ear is to wear quality ear plugs. Here at Triocean global, we’ve got you covered. We have tested the two top selling Ear Plugs, and we have to say it is a very close competition. They are both comfortable, secure fitting, and you can still hear.

  • Surf Ear 3.0

Surf Ears 3.0 are a best seller for a reason. Simply put, they let sound in and keep water out. They also have interchangeable parts which allow for a more customisable fit, and a leash that keeps you from loosing them. The one-way acoustic mesh also allows you to hear whilst in the water – Bonus!

  •  EQ Seals

The first thing we noticed about EQ Seals was how comfortable and discreet they were. An innovative and creative design, the Seals Balance Pro is made of two elements: a medical grade silicone body and ‘Sympatex’ membranes. The body, made of a cup and an extension rib, is designed to be placed just behind the first curb of the auditory canal, purposely limiting pressure around the wall of the ear canal, offering a comfortable. waterproof, and secure fit.

Another way to prevent Surfers ear is to quit surfing and stop playing in the sea altogether…good one…

What To Do If You Have Surfers Ear:

If you are reading this and thinking, ‘ah bugger I think I already have surfers ear’, get yourself to a doctor. They will have a look inside the ear canal and assess the level of exostosis. The next step is referral to an ENT specialist to see whether an operation is necessary. This will involve cutting behind the ear, flapping it forward and drilling (or in some cases chiseling) away the boney growth – Lovely. Following this you will have to stay out of the water for roughly 2 months, so as not to get another infection or put the already inflamed ear drum under any more pressure. This does not sound like a process any of us would be glad to go through, let alone not being able to surf for that long!

All in all, surfers ear can be a real nuisance. It’s painful, irritating and down right inconvenient. By wearing ear plugs you can avoid all this nonsense and carry on your merry (but cold and windy) way.




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