If you are an avid surfer, then you may understand that it is important to wear protective gear. You should not simply wear your wet suit, though. You also need to think of your ears. Ear protection may not immediately come to mind, but protective and custom-made surfer ear plugs are essential. Keep reading to learn about a few issues that can develop if you choose not to use protective ear plugs.

Surfer's Ear

Surfer's ear is an ailment that affects surfers, and the medical term for the issue is called exostosis. Exostosis is a disease that involves the growth of new bone tissue around the ear canal. Specifically, a portion of the temporal bone starts to overgrow and squeezes the ear canal. This narrows the opening significantly and can trap water, bacteria, and earwax inside the ear. 

Surfer's ear can cause a wide range of symptoms that include hearing loss, infections, and ear pain. Unfortunately, the disorder is progressive and does require surgical removal of the bone obstructing the ear canal. No other treatment can be used to resolve the problem, but it can be easily prevented with the use of ear plugs.

Ear plugs help to keep the cold wind and water out of the ear canal. The irritation that the wind and water can cause leads to inflammation and bone growth, so keeping the ears dry is essential for minimizing the disorder. 

Ear Infections

General ear infections are quite common in surfers and can be prevented by using ear plugs. Infections of the outer ear canal, which makes up the external portion of the ear, are most likely to develop. The infection starts when dirty water enters the ear canal. This water contains a great deal of microorganisms, especially if the water is warm. As water becomes trapped in the ear, the microorganisms multiply, thrive, and form the infection. Antibiotics can be used to treat simple ear infections, but the infections are often quite painful.

You should know that ear infections can develop in the middle ear as well. This type of ailment is often called swimmer's ear, but it is common with surfers as well. Also, if the ear drum has been perforated, both outer and middle ear infections are likely. 

While bacteria in the water is the most common cause of an ear infection, infections are also caused by dirty ear buds worn in the water. These buds typically fit the ear incorrectly and force debris and bacteria deep into the ear. This can trap bacteria and lead to an infection.