What is Surfers ear?
Quite different to Swimmer’s Ear (which is generally caused by warmer waters & foreign body entering the ear drum causing bacteria build up), Surfer’s Ear involves the growth of bone (exostosis) in the ear canal caused by exposure to cold water and/or wind. This leads to a narrowing of the ear canal, making it more likely that the water will get trapped and leave you at a higher risk of ear infection. Some divers are more susceptible to Surfer’s Ear than others, so there is no specified time period it takes for problems to arise. It is much more common than realized because people suffer from it to varying degrees, with the worst case being hearing loss, severe pain and/or tinnitus (a ringing in the ear). Furthermore, often people don’t realize they have it until they travel to warmer climates (e.g. for a holiday) and experience infections.
If Surfer’s Ear gets bad and you suffer repeated infections, hearing loss or pain then there is a requirement for surgery, which is said to be incredibly painful. This involves either drilling or chiseling the bone out. This is why we recommend purchasing Surf Ears and looking after your ears!
Just because it is called "Surfer’s" Ear, doesn't mean that its not for anyone! In reality this is a risk for anyone undertaking any water-based activities – whether above, on, or below the water’s surface (this includes sailing, diving, kayaking etc.). Exposure to water and wind leads to bone within the ear canal growing to protect the eardrum. Even if you decide to stop getting into the water, the bone has been known to continue to grow.
There are a number of things that can be done to prevent Surfer’s Ear, including; wearing ear plugs to protect your ears and prevent water from entering into them. Wearing a swimming cap or hood can help by providing an extra layer of protection.
HOW SURF EARS WORKS FOR DIVERS...
Divers are often told not to wear earplugs as they block the space between the outer ear and the ear drum. However, wearing earplugs doesn’t affect your ability to equalize your inner ear, as many people think. The risk is that as pressure increases the plug might be pushed into the ear canal and cause harm. "SurfEars" ear plugs work to prevent this by letting a very small amount of water through the acoustic mesh on deeper dives, reducing the pressure and preventing the plugs from being pushed into the ear canal. At shallower depths, or snorkeling, the water pressure is unlikely to affect the plugs at all.
If you would like to know more about SurfEars ear plugs for diving, please click the link for reviews;
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