A surfer gets surfer's ear

With review and feedback from CEENTA ENT physician Mark Abrams, MD (Rock Hill)

Have you spent a lot of time in cold water in the past? Has your doctor ever commented on your ear canal looking unusual? Have you been experiencing hearing loss, frequent swimmer’s ear, or even earwax buildup? If so, you may have a condition called surfer’s ear.

What is surfer’s ear?

Surfer’s ear, clinically known as external auditory exostoses, is a disease caused by benign bone growth triggered by repeated exposure to cold water. Because wind can make the water colder, it was classically associated with surfing. However, anyone who spends a lot of time in or on the water, especially cold temperatures, is at risk for surfer’s ear.

Mark Abrams, MD

What are the symptoms of surfer’s ear?

Surfer’s ear itself is asymptomatic, but it can exacerbate other conditions. In addition to the list above, surfer’s ear can be associated with ear blockage and sometimes affects hearing aid fitting, CEENTA ENT physician Mark Abrams, MD, said.

How is surfer’s ear treated?

Surgery is the only way to remove the excess bone growth. However, it can return. Therefore, people should try to prevent surfer’s ear.

How is surfer’s ear prevented?

The best way to avoid surfer’s ear is to keep water out of your ears. Minimize your time in the water when it is cold. Wearing earplugs and even ear or head coverings while you are engaged in cold water activities is a great option, too.

Where can I get surfer’s ear treated?

If you have any concerns about your ear health, come to CEENTA. Our ENT doctors will keep your ears as healthy as possible, no matter how much time you spend in the water.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. New patients can make appointments online with our ENT doctors in North and South Carolina. Current patients can also make appointments through myCEENTAchart with physicians they have already seen.


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