If you’re a surfer you’ve probably heard of surfer’s ear. This dreaded condition is well known among the surfing community. Recent research by Dr Toby Bateson at ZenPlugs has shown most surfers know they need to wear ear plugs to help protect their ears. Unfortunately most surfers are not aware they should be wearing a surfing cap as well.
A cap is needed because the bone behind the ear also needs to be protected against the cold wind and water. ZenPlugs’ research showed that people who wear both hat and plugs more than 90% of the time are 17 times less likely to develop the condition. This is when compared to those who don’t wear them at all. In fact, people who had been wearing plugs and hat for 90% of the time or more were all free of surfer’s ear at the time of the survey. Some of the surfers had been going in the water regularly for well over 20 years.
Wearing a surfing cap and plugs 40% of the time lead to an average of 11 years of freedom from surfer’s ear. Wearing them for 80% of the time lead to 16 years of freedom.
The survey was sent to surfers using social media and a hospital staff mailing list. 203 replies were received. The average total amount of time spent in the water by all the surfers surveyed was 2880 hours. This comes from an average of two hours per session, eight surfs per month and 15 years of surfing. Clearly this group were avid surfers.
Surfer’s ear is well worth avoiding as it leads to progressive deafness and ear infections. The only proven treatment for the narrowing of the ear canal which occurs is an operation. This can be painful and is well worth avoiding.
Summary. If you want to remain free of surfer’s ear and deafness you need to wear your surfing hat and surfing ear plugs more than 90% of the time you are in the water.
Here’s an infographic to sum it all up: