Surfers Ear – Prevention is the best cure

Now Ear This

Hearing loss explainer

Virtually on a weekly basis a fellow surfer complains to me about a hearing problem commonly termed Surfers Ear. A condition prevalent in cold windy waters which is typically the norm for Victorian winters, which sees the narrowing of the ear canal due to the formation of bony growth’s (exostoses). As the ear canal gradually closes, water blockages and infections become increasingly more prevalent until the patient’s only option in most cases is a referral to an Ear Specialist .

This in fact was the case for Phil and I some 15 years ago. I came away from Dr Valentines Office with the instruction of having surgery within the next 12 months or face having a more painful operation and recovery.

With just a little time up the sleeve, Phil suggested wearing a Gath helmet and some 12 months later on after a visit to the specialist, I was given the all clear – no op.

We have both lasted some 15 years wearing those dorky helmets, but hey, I know many surfers who have had multiple operations and once the ear has been bored out, if not looked after, the bony growth will grow back even faster.

Our Glasser John Jolly has had 3 such operations, Shaper Simon forward one, Phil grace, Mark Harrison and most past Vic surfing champ’s have all had their ears done. One mate has had 5 ear ops.

Not all the op’s are successful. Shoreham local Scottie Gibson is less than happy with his result and has now chosen not to have the other ear done.

In the 50’s and 60’s the dangers of drink driving, smoking ciggies and sun exposure were not a recognised risk to one’s health. Similarly most young surfers are oblivious to the problems of surfers ear, but trust me if no preventative measures are taken then your number will eventually come up.

Months out of the water, an expensive operation and a good dose of pain for good measure, or you can try The Docs Pro Plugs or maybe even the Gath Helmet like the Bros.

Think about it. If you surf, wear protection, it’s just like safe sex.

– Paul Trigger

According to nearly every doctor and surfer alike, the best way to fight Surfer’s Ear is always wear earplugs, and if it’s real cold, wear a hood. Originator of the “surfers ear plug” Doc’s Pro Plugs says, “A PROPLUG keeps a warm pocket of air in the canal blocking cold water and air out without loss of hearing and balance. The vent does not leak due to surface tension. A drop may often cover the outside of the vent giving the impression of water in the canal. Simply push on the plug and the drop falls off.”

Here’s some links to the relevant products mentioned in this article.

Doc’s Pro Plugs
EQ Seals
Gath Helmets
Ripcurl FLash Bomb 2.5mm Wetsuit Hood
ONeill Coldwater 3mm Hood
Xcel 2mm Thermo Hood