White water kayakers tend to be prone to develop a condition called Surfer’s ear (or exostosis). Surfer’s ear got its name because it’s common among surfers and is caused by cold water in the ears. The colder the water the faster this condition develops why kayakers who spend time in frigid melt water are at high risk.
What happens is that lumps made of bone develops in the ear canal. This is believed to our bodies defence mechanism to protect the ear drum from the cold, but it tend cause more problem then protection.
The bigger the extra bones grow, the narrower your ear canal get and water can get trapped behind the bone growth. Typically the first sign of Surfer’s is that you get water stuck in your ears. As your ear get worse at drying, there will also be a higher risk to develop ear infections. In severe cases, surgery might be needed to remove the bones. This is a can be unpleasant experience including cutting the outer ear open to give the surgeon easy access to drill the bones away whereby the ear is stitched back. Read more about surfer’s ear.
Swimmer’s ear (or otitis externa) is infection in the ear canal. When kayaking this can be caused by poor water quality or remaining moist in your ears that allows bacteria to thrive. Ear infections can be treated with ear drops. Read more about swimmer’s ear.
Protect your ears
Wearing ear plugs is the best way to prevent the above issues. What sets SurfEars apart from most other earplugs is that they let enough sound through to not affect your hearing or balance, but at the same effectively reduce a large portion of the high pitch noise from rapid water.
Review by Brendan Orton.