Surfing is an exhilarating sport. Taking in the sights and sounds of nature at lightning speed is exciting, and many surfers love the feeling that comes with riding the ocean waves against the raging wind.

Surfers know that regularly working on movement and balance is vital. However, your balance isn’t the only thing you should be concerned about maintaining when you’re out on the water. In addition to staying flexible and keeping bacterial infections at bay, it’s also important to consider how you’ll protect your ears.

Because surfers are not constantly underwater, you may be surprised to learn that serious ear problems occur frequently among this group. In fact, the most common ear condition has a name: surfer’s ear. 

If you regularly surf — especially in cold conditions — it’s important to know how to lower your health risks so you can enjoy your sport for many years to come.

What Kinds of Hearing Risks Do Surfers Face?

For most surfers, external auditory exostosis (or surfer’s ear) is the main ear health risk associated with the activity. Surfer’s ear occurs when cold ocean water and wind exposure refrigerate the ear, causing blood to rush to the site in an attempt to warm it. This causes hyperstimulation of the external auditory canal, leading to excess bony growth inside the ear.

Although this bony growth is your body’s way of protecting your ear from the elements, it causes many ear-related problems. Over time, the extra bone will narrow the ear canal, partially or entirely blocking it off. As a result, you may experience chronic infections and gradual hearing loss. 

Hearing loss and damage to the inner ear can also cause problems with balance. People with ear infections might experience debilitating attacks of dizziness and vertigo.

Benefits of Hearing Protection for Surfers

To avoid surfer’s ear and the potential health risks that result from it, surfers need to take the proper precautions before, during, and after each session. Just a few tips for hearing protection include:

  • Wearing a neoprene hood to keep your head and ears warm
  • Keeping the volume of music at a reasonable level
  • Using custom-fit silicone earplugs to keep wind and water out
  • Drying your ears and keeping them warm after surfing
  • Getting your hearing checked regularly by an audiologist

It might require a little effort, but taking these steps to protect your hearing has many benefits. First, these precautions are an investment in your long-term health, as surfer’s ear is often asymptomatic until the condition is advanced. 

You’ll also reap the benefit of avoiding stenosis and the need for surgery to correct an advanced case, allowing you to keep risks at bay and save money in the long run. Best of all, maintaining your hearing means maintaining your balance so you can continue to surf well into the future.

Finding the Right Fit: How to Choose the Perfect Hearing Protection Tools

When choosing the best hearing protection tools, it’s crucial that you don’t simply go for the most popular or best-looking option. Instead, consider the following criteria in your search for surfer earplugs:

  • Effectively seal off your ear from water and wind
  • Are comfortable to wear for long periods
  • Are custom-fit and adaptable to your particular ear shape
  • Allow you to hear as much of your surroundings as possible while surfing
  • Are made of high-quality materials that can withstand frequent washing

Following these rules will help you choose earplugs that protect your health and allow you to continue doing what you love.

Prioritize Your Hearing with Help from the Team at Arcade Hearing Aid Center

If you’re at risk for surfer’s ear, having your hearing tested regularly by a qualified audiologist is a good idea. A hearing specialist will determine what type of diagnostic testing is best for you, correctly interpret your results, and recommend further testing, treatment, or prevention options, such as custom-fit silicone earplugs.

Contact Arcade Hearing Aid Center in Santa Monica, CA, to schedule an appointment with a hearing aid doctor and learn how to maintain your hearing health so you can keep riding those waves.