Exostosis Can Cause Hearing Loss
People who are exposed to extreme cold or prolonged cold temperatures are susceptible to exostosis, ear canal growth, also known as surfer's ear. Surfers, therefore, are more prone to this condition, especially surfers of colder waters. When the ear canal gets exposed to cold temperatures as in sitting in cold waters and/or sitting in cold offshore winds waiting in the line up, bone will grow in the ear canal as a way to protect itself.
This bone growth can grow in one or both ears. If this is not diagnosed and cared for, it can eventually occlude the ear canal. This occlusion can eventually cause partial hearing loss, but in some cases total hearing loss. Also, this blockage can prevent water from exiting the ear canal with ease. If water is unable to exit the ear canal and allowed to dry, bacteria can eventually grow and cause an ear infection and ear pain. With a bad enough infection, you can actually lose your hearing that way.
There is a simple and easy way to prevent this. One is to stop surfing! Just joking! If you're like me, there's no way you can stop! It's a way of life! The easiest way is to use ear plugs. There are many ear plugs that actually work. Some do protect you your ear canals, but completely seal the canal and muffle the external sounds. Not only can they change your equilibrium, initially, but it can actually keep you from hearing the people around you. The ones I personally use is the JBL Hydro Seals Vented ear plugs. It is actually vented so that you can hear your friends and others while you surf and carry on a normal conversation. Another option, if you prefer not to put something in your ears, you can use a neoprene hoodie. This cover can actually protect your entire head from the cold and diminish heat loss. Therefore, it allows you to keep you in the water longer, an added bonus!
Unfortunately, once the growth has begun, it stays there. I mean, you can't just avoid cold environments and expect it to go away. Once it's there, it's there!
There are no magical drops that can melt the growth away. When you decide you can no longer function with your surfer's ear, the only option is surgery. Your ENT or ear, nose, and throat doctor, can provide you with you options for surgery. After surgery, you will have to find a hobby to keep you from jumping out of your skin because you can not surf for a few weeks. The treated ear has to be kept dry and packed with a medicated packing for at least a couple of weeks.
When I found out I had exostoses on both ears, I decided to take action and protect my hearing by preventing further growth, I bought both the ear plugs and a neoprene hoodie. I'm happy to report that growths have not increased since I started using both. It has been almost two years and they remain the same size.
If you are exposed to cold climates and risk exostosis, take the initiative to protect your hearing like I did! Happy surfing!