The condition known as surfer’s ear, also called exostosis, describes an abnormal bone growth in the ear canal that can result in a narrowing of the outer ear, ear infections and hearing loss. Surfer’s ear is commonly caused by prolonged exposure to cold water or wind. It is preventable by using quality earmolds for protection. Surfer’s ear can be managed if symptoms are mild, but many cases require surgery.
To prevent exostosis, Camino ENT offers both standard and custom plug options for your ear protection needs.
What Are the Symptoms of Surfer’s Ear?
As the ear canal narrows, water can become trapped inside, resulting in frequent ear infections. The infections as well as a loss of hearing and the sensation of “plugged up” ears that do not drain are the primary symptoms of surfer’s ear. The condition itself is not dangerous, but left untreated the danger of occlusion and an accompanying hearing loss increases.
How Is Surfer’s Ear Treated?
Treatment usually involves an outpatient surgical procedure known as canalplasty. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia. A surgeon uses a binocular microscope and drilling or chiseling out the bone growth. The surgeon usually performs this surgery through the ear canal, but may also make an incision behind the ear.
While recovering from this procedure, it is very important to not expose the ear canal to water, as this could lead to further infections. Recovery takes between a few weeks and a few months.
How Can I Prevent Surfer’s Ear?
Avoiding surfing and swimming in extremely cold water or during especially windy conditions is the key to preventing surfer’s ear. In addition, keeping the ear canals warm and dry by wearing earplugs, a swim cap or a hood can all help. Custom earmolds are your best bet to ensuring a tight seal and all-day comfort.
Call Camino Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic at (408) 227-6300 for more information or to schedule an appointment.