Many swimmers, triathletes and other water athletes know it might be a good idea to protect their ears while they are in the water. But there are also many people who are unaware of the risks until they get affected. When are you at risk? What are the symptoms? We thought it was time to straighten out the questions marks!
Your ears are at risk, not only in extreme conditions.
When the bones within the ear get exposed for cold water or wind, the bones grow. This abnormal bone growth, or exostosis which is greek for ”new bone”, is usually referred to as surfer’s ear, but can just as well happen to swimmers. The colder the water is the faster the bones grow, whereby surfer’s ear is more common in cold water areas. But, according to the Dutchs sport medicine physician Maarten Verschure, ears are at risk as soon as the water temperature gets under 17.5 degrees Celsius (63.5 Fahrenheit).
When the bones grow the ear canal gets narrower. The lucky ones doesn’t get any symptoms, but you can also be plagued with constant pain and in some cases ringing in the ears. Surfer’s ear can be treated with surgery, where the extra bones are removed. The surgery will keep you out of the water for weeks, and it is not without risk. If it goes bad it can lead to complications such as the paralysis of the facial nerve, an ear drum perforation, or damage to the joint of the jaw. If you aren't sensitive, you can watch a surgery here.
As the ear canal gets narrower, the ears get worse at drying after being in the water. If you notice that ears are being blocked by water for a longer time than usual, that can be a warning sign that you have surfer’s ear. Sea water is full of bacteria and for people with a narrow ear canal, there is a higher risk for irritation and development of infections, whereby recurring ear infections also are a sign of surfer’s ear. If there is irritation it starts to ache and if an ear infection develops the aching usually gets worse.
Ear infections is also called Swimmer’s Ear or Otitis, and they can be really painful, make you feel ill and even make you temporarily deaf. Swimmer’s ear can generate a bad smell and it doesn’t look pretty, and any contact with the ocean makes the infection worse. Medical treatment such as eardrops is usually necessary. Early treatment helps prevent complications and development of a more serious infection.
Ear plugs, a good idea regardless of water temperature.
Bacteria is everywhere so it’s always a good idea to protect your ears regardless of the temperature in the water. Preventing surfer’s ear and infections with ear plugs is definitely a good idea. With SwimEars™ you can protect your ears without affecting your hearing. Less hassle, fewer visits to the doctor and more time in the water!