Surfer's Ear (Exostosis)
Surfer's Ear (or exostosis in medical terminology) is an ear condition that affects ears that are chronically exposed to cold water or air for many years. Most commonly it affects surfers but is also seen among divers, swimmers and even sailors who are exposed to cold air for prolonged periods of time. The bony ear canal (the deepest third of the ear canal) responds to cold temperature by depositing new layers of bone. Over time, these layers upon layers of bone accumulate and build toward the middle of the ear canal, gradually narrowing it. Once it narrows beyond a critical level (different for every patient but typically about 90-95% blocked) the ear canal starts to trap water, cause intermittent hearing loss and become frequently infected. Once this point is reached surgical intervention is often considered.