In fact, the Orthopedic Trauma Institute estimates that for every 1,000 days a person spends surfing, they will experience approximately three and a half ligament-, muscle- and joint-based injuries.
However, there is a surf malady much more common, far less mentioned and potentially considerably more dangerous: exostosis (aka surfer’s ear). It’s a problem that affects close to one out of every three surfers and, if untreated, can cause pain and severe hearing loss.
The condition is caused by prolonged exposure to cold water and affects both young and old surfers. When the ear canal is irritated over a long period of time, it responds by growing bone, effectively narrowing the canal and causing hearing loss.
Eventually, this bone growth becomes so pronounced that it can lead to total hearing loss and can be treated only by cutting out or shaving down the bony growth, a process that requires a six- to eight-week recovery.
In addition to leading to hearing loss, the growths also trap water and cause frequent infections, which can be particularly harmful for those spending extended periods in the surf. Now that wetsuits are extending seasons longer and longer, that risk is amplified, even for younger surfers.
Surgery is the only real “cure” for surfer’s ear, but Fujioka notes that prevention is likely the best form of treatment.
Fujioka is unsure why there is so little publicity surrounding the ear injury, given its prevalence in the surf community, but thinks that surfer’s ear will continue to grow as the sport becomes more popular around the world.
“I am amazed at the number of surfers that do not wear earplugs (my son included), and know surfer’s ear is no joke,” says Fujioka. “I have had the surgeries myself and I could not surf; it was no fun.”
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This piece was originally published at grindtv.com / Author: Kade Krichko