Asking for advice on surfer's ear.. I am 31 been surfing on average a few times a week for past seven or so years now. I live on the Surf Coast. I never noticed any issues with my ears but at the start of this Autumn I got a really bad ear infection that has not fully unblocked for 4 - 5 months now. Seen the doc a bunch of times - he thought / thinks it is my eustachian tube that is blocked. Had another flare up this week and went to see him and how he says he can see mild surfers ear developing as well. I do already have some sinus issues and hayfever / cold / flu combo may have flared it up this time.
I am spewing because I couldn't stop surfing over any prolonged period (this did cost me most of Autumn but I had a great Winter thankfully) so I assume this means I need to move north eventually before it gets worse.
Any advice on natural remedies as a preventative measure now to avoid surgery later?
And if you were to move in search of warmer water, how warm does the water need to be to make this a non issue? Like is NSW / WA okay or needs to be QLD?
Thanks in advance!
I'm also on the Surf Coast and wear plugs at all times and a hood in winter. The plugs will stop huge influxes of water getting in your ear which will reduce the amount of flare ups and also add a layer of protection from the wind. The hood doubles up that protection in winter.
If you want to do it on the cheap then blu tack as plugs works well.
I had my first major flare up last year but went all through this Autumn/Winter without any issues using the above techniques.
Yep plugs help. Wore the hoodie most of the winter and it stops the wind which is crucial.
Plugs help like vj said but I find them annoying to surf with.
After having the operation last year and finding that the recovery was easy, pain free and the time out of the water was minimal I wouldn’t worry about wearing plugs or moving north just to escape surfers ear.
I’d rather get the op done again if need be.
Wow, painless and easy recovery? Minimal time, what we talking GF?
Hey Craig, yep I’ve spoken about it on another thread on here I think.
Compared to the pain from a couple of severe ear infections which ended up hospitalising me the ear surgery was fine.
From memory I had Panadol for the first day then nothing else and was back at work 3 days after surgery.
Pretty sure it was about 2.5 weeks out of the water while it healed.
Tbh I was expecting the worst after hearing a few horror stories but it was fine.
I need to get my other ear done eventually and the specialist said I can wear plugs every surf and it may not get any worse. But if I dont wear plugs I’ll almost definitely need to get it done, and I’d rather get the op that wear plugs so that’s what I’m doing.
you couldn’t get a pin through my ear canal before it was done either so it needed a good going over in there, I was super surprised how quick and easy it healed.
Do what you can to avoid the surgery (use plugs, hood etc). Really knocked me around and it was expensive ($5k or so). I was off work for a week and out of the water for about 6 weeks.
Fwiw, both my ear canals have a <1mm opening, and have had for over 15 years. I've had them - and my hearing - checked once a year, and there's been no change.
I wear soft silicon earplugs (Mack's Aquablock) whenever my head goes under water.
No op, no pain, no drama.
My issues I had back in April/May seemed to be more a fungal infection rather than developing surfers ear. I've been fine since and gone through winter. Will have a check to see where they're at though.
Interesting timing of this thread. Got a doc appointment tomorrow to suss out my right ear... a cold water surfer and have had an ear infection recently in Indo, then have come off a cold & sinus issue when I got back. Now left with some ongoing pain albeit mild. Hoping it's just the infection that caused it. In Indo I did get a doc who did this weird as treatment to clear wax from my ears, felt like he was drilling into my brain. Fuck it hurt when he did it in the infected ear! I squealed like a baby!
Just a point that people are wearing headphones more nowadays and this is making ear infections more common
Especially in warmer climates
Some good post above
I never have issues in Victoria with my ears, but in Indo i can get issues if not careful, and while of course just humid moist conditions or suss water is always a risk factor.
Two other aspects can increase the risk or add to things.
1. Just flying tends to irritate and inflame my ear canals (yes i suck sweets) which means water can get trapped easier and i tend to touch my ears more after a bad flight, which spreads bacteria.
2. As mentioned above ears buds, also risk infection or also irritate and inflame your canels.
I just find the bacteria that is about in Indo can be a risk in all kinds of ways, for instance in Australia you might be able to chew your nails with no issues, do it in indo and you are bound to get the runs or stomach aches or worst.
Cuts obviously are always more at risk, have to be so much more careful on keeping then clean and dry.
Even teeth, if you have a little niggle in Australia in Indo it tends to flair up.
My experience was more like Bnkref's than GF's.
Unfortunately I was one of the 3% that incurred a perforated ear drum as part of the surgery. Although I was back at work within two days, the surgery knocked me around (much more than ACL knee reconstruction 6 months prior). I couldn't hear from my operated ear for 6 weeks post surgery which was a real pain when in at noisy work functions - I avoided noisy social settings altogether. I'm now 16 weeks post surgery and still getting ear infections due to perforated ear drum meaning surgery was not worth the pain or hassle. I fly regularly for work so ear drum unlikely to repair on its own - I'm booked in for surgery before Christmas to repair it. I wear plugs and hood/helmet (to keep wind out) now as I intend to avoid repeat surgery at all costs in the future. Have yet to book surgery for second ear and intend to persist with plugs etc and see how it goes.
That's very rough Nolan. Hope it all works out okay.
I've also had a perforated eardrum but that was from the rail of my board hitting the side of my head. Not a pleasant experience. Didn't need surgery for that thankfully. The eardrum healed itself.
Zen i guess you have that Staph infection all sorted in your Ear Canal ?
@nolan , were you private health with choice of your own surgeon or were you under the public system ? Sounds like a rough time and hope you come good soon .
Yeah real rough Nolan, they pay to get it fixed? Or any compensation?
Thanks all for tips and feedback. I bought the plugs after the first ear infection but seems to still let water in a bit. Might need to try different plug size.
Interesting that a few others had this issue came up just this year april / may or last year as well. Mine started with a chest infection and then I had to fly for work and the plane trip sent the infection up to my ear and it never fully went away since.. I wonder if it's a broader increase / change in bacterial / viral variants in response to covid measures.. Anecdotally I've noticed kids at school and also adults at work needing a lot more time to recover from these kind of things. Just making me think it could be more along those lines then the actual surfers ear reading others responses, but I will make sure I take precautions to minimize this going forward too as this is how I've found this early. Cheers and hope all affected have speedy recoveries as well.
Has been done that way for years in Australia.
Has been done that way for years in Australia.
My surgeon actually recommended against it .
Yep Drilling does seem to be the Preferred Method in Aust.
i have the same issue in my left ear needs to be operated on but i just dont want to have it done as yet , its prone to infections and last year couldnt hear out of it for 2 weeks i have found using aqua ear as soon as i get out of the water has worked a treat for me , not a long term fix i guess but it has stopped any issues with water not draining out and infections .
Drilled 3 times now - chiselling didn't seem to be an option. My left ear was done around 20 years ago and regrew. A different surgeon in Geelong did the same ear 10 years later and then the right after a few more years. Great results, but roughly 6 to 8 weeks recovery - the first couple of weeks with quite a bit of pain and inconvenience. (I did suffer a kind of tinnitus / clicking noises / jumping nerve for a few months after). It's not fun. Avoid if you can. Lucky to have private insurance but from memory, still pretty expensive. Always wear ear plugs now - Tried a few brands and methods, but I prefer the doc pro plugs I came across this ad. recently
Custom made @ $300 a pop. Expensive, but cheaper than surgery.
Got my ears vacuumed yesterday, left ear had heaps of wax , my ear ops were in 2018 & 19 and Dr said they look good with minimal bone re- growth . Unfortunately my surgeon Dr Malouf has retired after getting two shoulder reconstructions . When he did the op he said I would die of old age before the bone grew back . I was a bit worried when I heard of people getting the op 3 times, he said this was down to surgeons being a bit shy on how much they drill out as its a sensitive area with nerves in the area . Pays dividends to have a good surgeon that has done hundreds of these procedures .