Surfer’s ear (the common name for exostosis) is the name given to a bony growth that develops inside the ear canal. The ear canal is basically a cylindrical tube, and when the tube is constricted by bone growth, you have surfer’s ear.
Exostoses are bony outgrowths of the external auditory canal. They typically line both the front and back of the canal causing narrowing, which can be severe. Exostoses happen more often in people exposed to cold water and wind, such as surfers and divers .The name is “surfer’s ear”.
Initially exostoses don’t generally cause any symptoms. As they grow, they begin to block the external auditory canal, trapping water. This leads to infections, and because of the altered shape of the ear canal, these infections can be more difficult to treat. If you have exostoses and get recurring infections, you might be a candidate for surgical removal of the exostoses. Rarely, exostoses will cause a conductive hearing loss because of blockage of the ear canal. In these cases, surgery can help to correct the hearing loss. Surfers or swimmers predisposed to exostoses should consider wearing earplugs. Patients who have significant external canal exostoses without recurrent infection or hearing loss should be observed and have their ear canals cleaned periodically.
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