Northwest Kiteboarding
Forum | Classifieds | Lost & Found | CGKA | Industry | Sensors | Forecast | Spots | Seattle | Decals | RSS | Facebook

Events | Photos | Search | Register | Profile | Log in to check your messages | Log in 

Advice for Surfer's Ear?
Page 1, 2  Next
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Northwest Kiteboarding -> Gorge / Portland / Oregon Coast
previous topic :: next topic  
Author Message

Since 21 Jul 2009
1226 Posts
Hood River
XTreme Poster

PostTue Jun 21, 11 1:16 pm    Advice for Surfer's Ear? Reply with quote

Waiting to see my doctor........
Pretty sure I've developed surfer's ear.
My right ear does not hurt, it's not infected, but I'm almost deaf in that ear and I hear low-level background swoosh that's synched up to my pulse.

Anyone had the problem and tried the surgical procedure to correct?

Good place to get ear plugs in HR?

Surfer's ear is the common name for an exostosis or abnormal bone growth within the ear canal. Surfer's ear is not the same as swimmer's ear, although infection can result as a side effect.
Irritation from cold wind and water exposure causes the bone surrounding the ear canal to develop lumps of new bony growth which constrict the ear canal. The condition is so named due to its prevalence among cold water surfers. Cold water surfers experience surfer's ear at about six times the rate of warm water surfers.
The condition is not limited to surfing and can occur in any activity with cold, wet, windy conditions such as kayaking, sailing, jet skiing, and diving. Most avid surfers have at least some mild bone growths (exostoses), causing little to no problems.[1] The condition is progressive, making it important to take preventative measures early, preferably whenever surfing.

View user's profile Send private message

Since 02 Dec 2009
203 Posts
hood river

PostTue Jun 21, 11 1:28 pm    ears Reply with quote

Any ear plugs are better than none. I have used several but end up using cheap foam ones for sound protection. I lose a few, so what, they are cheap.

Had a friend that had the surgery, he recovered fine, it is gruesome sounding but not too bad actually.

Ear plugs and a swim cap are the best combo.

good luck

View user's profile Send private message

Since 19 Jun 2008
179 Posts


PostTue Jun 21, 11 1:46 pm     Reply with quote

Your doctor should be able to get some custom molded to your ear. That way they stay in and they make them so you can still hear, too. I know Mendy Maccabee does the custom ones here in HR.

View user's profile Send private message

Since 19 May 2011
55 Posts
The Dalles

PostTue Jun 21, 11 2:08 pm     Reply with quote

I ruptured my eardrum last summer, and when it was taken care of, my doctor told me that I had surfer's ear.

My case is not too bad since I discovered it early. So the popped eardrum turned out to be blessing.

If you spend time in water below 60 degrees you should wear earplugs. Doc's Proplugs are the best I know of. The Kayak Shed has them, they are online, and many ENT doctors have them.

Some people are much more prone to exostosis than others, but there is no way of knowing without a doctors exam. People can hear through an extremely narrow ear canal, so it is only extremely advanced surfer's ear that would cause hearing loss. This makes me think you may not have exostosis, but you will find out when you see your doctor.

Also, the surgery should not be taken lightly, since your facial nerve is close to your ear canal and can be damaged. This leaves you with half of your face drooping, possibly for life.

View user's profile Send private message

Since 12 Jul 2006
1691 Posts

I give out bad advice.

PostTue Jun 21, 11 2:28 pm    I've had it done on both ears Reply with quote

Wilson Ear Clinic is the place I chose for my 2 surgery on my left ear.

Dr. Wilson did my surgery and it's been terrific ever since. My bone growth was severe and I had to get it done due to hearing loss and water being trapped.

The operation is done in day surgery and you're out the door in a matter hours.

Dr. Wilson has the most experience of any doc that I called.

I can hear better and water drains right out.


Hey, I'm being hahahahahrassed!

View user's profile Send private message

Since 12 Jun 2006
90 Posts


PostThu Jun 23, 11 7:40 am     Reply with quote

+1 on Doc's ProPlugs from the Kayak Shed. They're only $14 and come in 8 sizes. The vented ones allow pretty good hearing too. I have two sets of prescription ear plugs, and they're only slightly more comfortable at 10x the cost.

I've had several friends get the surgery. Sounds nasty and painful, but worth it if you have that much hearing loss (they were all glad they had it done).

View user's profile Send private message

Since 16 Aug 2006
364 Posts

PostThu Jun 23, 11 8:56 am     Reply with quote

For temporary relief, I've found that an "ear candle" works pretty well.
They kinda dry things out and get things unclogged.
It is actually pretty amazing (or gross) how much wax you can get out.


View user's profile Send private message

Since 30 Apr 2007
150 Posts


PostMon Jun 27, 11 12:51 am     Reply with quote

use alcohol or swimmers ear after EVER water session!!!!

View user's profile Send private message

Since 25 Jul 2018
1 Posts

New Member

PostWed Jul 25, 18 6:14 pm    Preventing Surfer's Ear Reply with quote

Thankfully never got a surfer's ear. Very lucky, minding that I've been surfing for years in NorCal without plugs, never liked the experience. But 3 of my friends did. After what I've heard from them about the surgery I decided to start wearing plugs. Still don't like them. 
Me and a couple of my close friends have been working on a new gen earplugs. Check em out.
Would love to hear your feedback!

No matter these or conventional, please wear plugs every time you are in the cold water. Save yourself from the pain of going though a surgery, it's a gnarly one.

View user's profile Send private message

Since 07 Aug 2009
243 Posts
Columbia City

PostWed Jul 25, 18 7:24 pm     Reply with quote

Damn! That it a cool web page for those ear buds! Thanks for passing it along.

I always wear plugs. Too many infections...

Gun control means hitting the bulls eye...

View user's profile Send private message

Since 28 Apr 2008
823 Posts
Newport, OR

PostWed Jul 25, 18 7:31 pm     Reply with quote

Had both ears surgically opened using the method that Dr. Hetzler from Santa Cruz developed. My surgery was done by Dr. Wesley Lewis at PDX ENT, but he is retired now. Minimal pain and quick recovery time, I was given the green light to return to surfing and kiting just 10 days after the operation.

My ear canals are now 80% open after being 95-100% closed. I never use ear plugs when kiting if I am wearing my hood, but always wear them surfing or kiting in warmer climates if not wearing a hood.

I would recommend only using the Hetzler procedure as it is minimally invasive and quick recovery. Contact PDX ENT for a consultation as they are top notch.

Last edited by Windian on Thu Jul 26, 18 7:59 pm; edited 1 time in total

View user's profile Send private message

Since 06 Jul 2005
375 Posts


PostWed Jul 25, 18 7:40 pm    plug em Reply with quote

go see Mendy or Steve Olsen. She has surfer's ear herself.
There are a lot of us (30 plus years dipping head in cold water then riding in cold wind) using the silicone wax ear plugs. Since I started plugging 10 years ago, my surfer's ear has not progressed.

View user's profile Send private message

Since 12 Jun 2014
254 Posts
The Dalles

PostThu Jul 26, 18 6:04 am     Reply with quote


I started wearing ear plugs full time this year. You can get the moldable silicone ones at Walgreens or the like. It's a 12 pack for $6 and each pair lasts about 5-6 sessions. They come in a nice little plastic case that you can reuse for weed, condoms, loose change, paperclips, miscellaneous screws and nails in your garage, earrings, oil pen cartridges, I could go on. Basically a great value.

I had a ruptured eardrum about two months ago and it was excruciating to say the least. Sure I could not fall so much and slam my head into the water but I don't want people to think I'm actually good at waters ports. Ear plugs full time.

See you on the water.

View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Since 09 Sep 2013
207 Posts


CGKA Member

PostThu Jul 26, 18 8:29 am     Reply with quote

I have surfers ear that has not progressed in years (~90%/~75%), but only suffer the pulse "swish swish" after bad impacts.

Hearing your pulse can be an indication of more serious issues such an aneurism somewhere between your neck and ear so IMO, you need to get an ultrasound. When they found nothing wrong with me and recommend an ENT specialist, I just started wearing plugs.

For me, plugs are more to protect against impacts and such since my surfers ear has not progressed in years, but "swish swish" stayed for 6 months... I actually miss it now that its gone.

Last edited by dwaynej on Thu Jul 26, 18 8:36 am; edited 1 time in total

View user's profile Send private message

Since 17 Jun 2016
42 Posts
Eugene, OR

PostThu Jul 26, 18 8:35 am     Reply with quote

windslayer wrote:
use alcohol or swimmers ear after EVER water session!!!!

Oh I'm definitely using alcohol after every session Wink Doesn't matter which hole I put it in, right?

View user's profile Send private message

Since 12 Jun 2006
90 Posts


PostFri Jul 27, 18 9:39 am     Reply with quote

Sounds like the first priority is drying out your ear, and killing any beasties growing in there. I prefer Swimmer's Ear drops, and have used various home brews (alcohol/vinegar/peroxide, sometimes with mineral oil/glycerin). Use after every session, and maybe in the morning and at night until your ear dries out. Works best if you lie on a pillow with the problem ear facing up, put in the drops, let marinate for 5 minutes.

Ear plugs are good to prevent more water from entering. I have custom molded plugs, vented Doc's ProPlugs, foam plugs, and silicone putty swimming plugs. My favorite is about half of a silicone plug, as it stays in pretty well, is comfortable, keeps most of the water out, and most importantly for me, retains pretty good hearing. I don't like any of the others, as they block out too much sound, which messes with your balance and makes it much harder to hear somebody kiting/sailing/tailgating in your blind spot.

View user's profile Send private message

Since 21 Jan 2014
79 Posts


PostFri Jul 27, 18 9:44 am     Reply with quote

I have somewhere around 80% closure ... religiously wear ear plugs now, scared of the surgery! Several friends have had it -- the traditional cut off your ear and dremel it out is invasive and you're out of the water for months. Shocked The Hetzler method recommended above is micro chisels ... only out a week or so.

Plugs....if you go with custom, it's best seal, but you lose a lot of hearing ... possible balance issues arise too. Doc's: never felt like they sealed up enough for me. Best I've found is ... but they are too pricey for something you lose so easily. I found some knock off versions that were cheaper, but can't seem to locate them. The tree plugs are cheap and work well, but painful under a hood.

Alcohol / ear candles: that won't do anything for surfers ear, other than maybe lessen chance for infections if you get water trapped. There's a lot of confusion out there between swimmer's ear (infections) and surfer's ear (bone growths).

Good times, yet another "benefit" of growing older!

View user's profile Send private message
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Northwest Kiteboarding -> Gorge / Portland / Oregon Coast All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You can attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum