Surfer’s Ear

Anyone who regularly swims in cold ocean water or chilly natural bodies of water may be surprised to learn about “external auditory exotosis” (otherwise known as surfer’s ear).  This condition, which is essentially a buildup of bone in the ear caused by repeated exposure to cold water and wind, can be induced by any cold water activity.  The closure of the ear canal associated with surfer’s ear is six times more likely to be found among people who surf in cold water.  The problem develops because the ear is the only place in the body where skin is directly on top of bone.  Without insulation, cold water stimulates bone growth, increasing the likelihood of ear infections and hearing loss.

Surfer’s ear can occur in any activity with cold, wet, windy conditions, including windsurfing, kayaking, sailing, jet skiing, kitesurfing and diving.  Some exostoses do not require surgical treatment, but once these have been diagnosed, it may be wise to protect the ears from cold water exposure using ear plugs or a neoprene headband or hood.  To schedule an appointment or to learn more about this condition, please call CORTLAND HEARING AIDS at 1-888-614-8064 or visit our website at