Surfer’s Ear

The medical term for Surfer’s Ear is exostosis which is a bone growth blocking the ear canal. The benign tumor is caused by irritation of the bone by cold water. Heat loss also occurs by evaporation when cold or warm air blows over wet skin even in the tropics.

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.

Without the shield of the PROPLUG, water can be impacted into the narrow stricture and is difficult to drain. If the PROPLUG falls out, water in the canal easily runs out. Most often a water athlete can leave after a session hearing normally. The PROPLUG prevents the excessive loss of earwax which acts like an antibiotic and antifungal agent. Thus Swimmer’s Ear complicating Surfer’s Ear is avoided.

SELF HELP: An inexpensive hand held otoscope can reveal excess was, inflammation, pus and retained water. Use the buddy system and purchase a $20 to $40 scope at a drug store.

OPERATION: Only too often, patients and surgeons resort to removal of the benign bony tumors by drilling and latest best technique, chiseling with micro chisels. I see the regrowth occurring three to six times faster after either technique.

Since 1978, I’ve used a fiber-optic otoscope to survey thousands of surfers and kayakers. Most often the patient can hear if water is kept out using DOC’S PROPLUGS and occasional removal of water with a tissue wick, bulb syringe suction, hair drier or two drops of alcohol. See an ENT for removal of excess wax. Most are ethical, skilled and patient. The ENT can keep an eye on it for you and he can show you the tumor with his video monitor. Take charge of yourself and make your own decisions. Remove the growth to improve function, not to make the canal look normal and pretty. Be sure to confirm the correct size with a “Hum” and if the “Hum” goes to the one plugged ear, it is the correct size.