80 F
Ocean City

Surfer’s Ear

Just a little tip from me if you are spending a LOT of time in the ocean…  Ive heard this kicks in after around 3500 hours logged in the cold water…  I have it and I wish I had listen to people telling me to wear ear plugs.  Lucky, mine doesnt get infected, but it is a huge pain in the butt.  Surfer’s Ear!  What is is? Here is an article Jason Borte did on Surfline:


Surfer’s Ear

As if surfers from colder climes aren’t disadvantaged enough by the simple truth that cold water sucks, along comes diffuse exostosis, or surfer’s ear, to compound their problems. The auditory-afflicting condition worsens with repeated exposure to the elements until surgery becomes the only respite from total hearing loss. Then again, deafness means never again having to hear stories of what they’re missing in the tropics.

Surfer’s ear takes years of cold-water sessions to develop, so the affliction is endemic to older surfers. Early warning signs include calling out, “Holy shit, my ears are cold!” If mere discomfort isn’t enough to make you invest in some dorky-looking ear plugs or move inland altogether, bigger problems are on the horizon. Long-term exposure leads to a build-up of bone within the ear canal, gradually hindering drainage between surfs. Carrying polluted saltwater around in your head presents its own set of evils, the nastiest of which can lead to an acute infection of the ear — a painful malady that may make you want to blow your head off and be through with it.

As a group, surfers are irrationally pigheaded when it comes to weighing potential dangers of their beloved sport. The best waves generally occur in winter, and anything short of hypothermia or rigor mortis is just part of the experience. Allowed to continue, surfer’s ear results in hearing loss as the bony growth closes the ear canal down for business. In order to restore hearing, surgery is required in the form of canaloplasty, a painful orgy of power tools within your head requiring an average two-month recovery. Shunning doctor’s orders of a high and dry healing process is ill-advised and could land you back in surgery, so it’s best to plan the operation just before the longest flat spell of the century.

For the safety conscious surfer, there are ways to avoid the whole ordeal. Ear plugs may be as unfashionable as a tiger-striped banana hammock, but they do the trick. Several styles exist — from the custom jobbers crafted by your family audiologist to the wax globs available at any drug store. After the onset of exostosis, the damage can be minimized by irrigating after each surf, using isopropyl alcohol with a dash of white vinegar. While the alcohol dries any post-session residue, the acidic nature of the vinegar combats any potential for bacterial or fungal growth.

Short of relocating to the tropics, surfers living in cold climates learn to accept surfer’s ear right along with armpit rash, ice cream headaches and severe shrinkage as just another day at the office. Like tennis elbow or truck driver’s butt, it’s an occupational hazard, a small price to pay for the best surf of the year. — Jason Borte

Brian Stoehrhttps://www.oceancity.com
Brian Stoehr is the editor of the OceanCity.com surf and watersports section, as well as the host of the Inside OC video series. As Ocean City’s only pro-bodyboarder, nobody is more qualified to bring you information on enjoying the ocean. Brian is widely recognized as one of the best all around “water” men of the East Coast (see his qualifications below for proof!). Be sure to check the watersports section often for advice, surf forecasts, safety information, photos, and updates to Brian’s blog. Questions for Brian should be directed to brianstoehrbodyboarding@gmail.com Who is Brian Stoehr: • 2x US National Pro Tour Bodyboard Champion •Past East Coast Pro Tour Champion •Over 13 Years as a professional bodyboarder •Over 20 years as a competitive surfer •Started stand up surfing at age 6 •Known as one of the most successful bodyboarders ever from the east coast of the US •Finished in the top 10 of the Pro tour for last 13 years and currently seated #2 •Stoehr Signature Series boards sold worldwide •Traveled and competed on a professional level all over the world

Plan Your Trip
OceanCity.com Recommends

Follow Oceancity.com


More articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here