While every surfer has spun a tale or two about surf injuries—a board to the back of the head, a hand sliced on a fin, a dislocated joint after a particularly violent closeout—these injuries are actually rather rare.
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…