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Julie Cox on the pains of exostosis, uh, surfer's ear

 

 

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Julie walks us through what is and what to do about exostosis

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 25 March, 2015 - Surfer's ear is a slow-build. Years of dedicated surfing in temperate and cold climates signal your body to do something stupid, like close off your ear canals. This year the ever-stylish Julie Cox went under the drill for ear surgery. Check out her informative blog about what exactly surfer's ear is and what it does.

I have been out of the water for a couple weeks recovering from Surfer's ear surgery. What is Surfers ear?  I wish it was some keen new sense I gained from surfing that gave me special powers to discern wave speed and conditions.  But, it's not that rad.  Why couldn't surfing have transformed my body and given me gills or webbed fingers instead? Here's the skinny on Surfer's Ear.  

"Surfer's ear" or as it is medically known - "exostosis of the external auditory canal"- is a condition of bone growth in the ear canal caused by the cooling effect of cold water and wind.  Cooling of the ear canal stimulates bone production by the cells that line the ear canal, and when extensive both growth occurs, the ear canal narrows and can easily become blocked by trapped water and ear wax (gross!).  The growth of bone in the ear canal takes place over many years and can be lessened by wearing ear plugs and or a neoprene hood when surfing.  

Basically, my ear was trying to protect itself and growing to cover the canal from the cold wind and water.  I should have been wearing ear plugs all along, especially those evening sessions at Pleasure Point.

The surgery was painless thanks to Dr. Douglas Hetzler in Santa Cruz.  He is the man when it comes to Surfers ear. Thanks to him I can hear better and life is almost back to normal.

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Julie Cox
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