EarsToday.com - Surf Ear Plugs

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If require the Best Hearing Protection for this item, and do not want to read the entire article, below are my recommended ear protection.

Introduction – Surfers Earplugs

Surf ear plugs, why would you wear them? When you are surfing, you really should be using ear plugs. This is not because the sound can damage your hearing, or you can get infections from the water, no the real reason that you should be using earplugs is a condition called “Surfers ear”, or exostosis.

“Surfers ear” is a condition that causes extra bone growth in the ears – which can be prevented with decent surf ear plugs

This article will give you all the information that you need to get best earplugs for surfing so that you can avoid this condition.

You need the right plugs so that your ears are protected, and you do not keep losing them in the surf! You will learn what to look for in the plugs, and how to spot the signs of “Surfers ear”

The efficiency of ear plugs is measured in NNR or noise reduction rating. Each point of NNR reduces the volume by one decibel (dB). When surfing, the main problem is not the noise, so we will not go into great detail on that here.

When choosing your earplugs for surfing, the NNR factor can be ignored for the most part. The essential point for you as a surfer is that the plugs keep the cold water out of your ears, and what is often overlooked when buying your first surfing earplugs is that they need to be attached to you in some way.

When you come off your board hard, there is a chance that the plugs may come out. If they are not attached to you, you are really not going to find them. Some people recommend floating colored plugs, but think about how far they can go when they come out, and they are not big. You will spend a long time looking for them, and you are going to lose a lot of these plugs!

As briefly mentioned above, the primary reason for wearing earplugs when surfing is to stop the ears from getting too cold, and developing surfer’s ear or exostosis. The ear plugs need to be able to stop the cold water going into the ears, and also stop the wind blowing in making them colder still.

Who Needs Surfers Earplugs?

The problem of surfer’s ear is not limited to people who are surfing in cold waters. You may surf in warmer water, but the effects of the wind will still cause the ear canal to become too cold, and exostosis will begin to develop, all be it at a slower rate. As this is progressive and requires expensive and invasive surgery to fix, do not take the chance and wear the best earplugs for surfing that you can!

Of course, this article is about surfing and surfers’ earplugs, but the problems can occur with many sports and jobs that require that you are in and out of the water a lot. Meaning that your ears are in cold water, then possibly wind is blowing them making them colder still. Some examples may be Professional Divers, Sailors, Fishermen, Kayakers and people on jet skis – All of these should wear ear plugs

The ears can be kept warm using ear plugs, swimming bands, and swimming caps. However, most surfers who are smart enough to look after their hearing prefer earplugs, as they are not a conspicuous as the other two methods. Also most plugs will allow you to hear reasonably well even when being worn.

Consider When Buying Surfers Plugs

There are several factors that need to be considered when you are buying a good pair of surfer’s ear protectors. Generally, in a lot of these articles, I recommend purchasing multi-purpose plugs to save space and money. But with surfing earplugs they are a specialized piece of equipment and cannot be used for many other activities that do not involve being in the water.

When looking for the best surfing earplugs, you should be considering the following criteria.

  • Keep the water out. This is the whole point of these plugs to keep the ears warm. These plugs need to be waterproof, or they will not help!
  • Size. The size of an ear-opening can vary from person to person; teenagers and women will have smaller openings than full-grown men. As the point is to keep out water and wind, you really need to get the best fit that you can
  • Leash / Attached to your body. No earplug is going to stay in your ear at all times. When you take a hard fall, and the plug comes out, there is no telling how far it will be washed away. Do not believe that you are easily going to find a floating earplug in the ocean – even if it is dayglow orange. Its small and the sea is enormous. Make sure you get plugs that are on a leash and attached to you in some way!
  • Comfortable. No one wants to spend hours with uncomfortable plugs in their ears. Make sure you buy soft plugs with a good comfort rating!
  • Let you hear. Some plugs will allow you to hear without much difficulty even when you are wearing the plugs. While this is not the most critical factor, it is still something that is nice to have.
  • Have a carry case – when you are not using the plugs, you want them stored safely in a clean environment. Again not essential, but make carrying them around far easier!

Why Do I Want To Look Like A Dork Wearing Plugs?

It may not be the coolest thing in the world to wear earplugs when surfing, but Surfers Ear is very common in most regular surfers to some extent. How bad you can get it is really down to your genes.

Some degree of Exostosis is as I said in most surfers’ ears, and is a progressive problem. Most adult males have an opening in their ears, which is about 7mm. The worse cases of surfer’s ear can take this down to 0.5 to 2mm. This is like a quarter of the size, so can affect your hearing and ear health.

There is no medication to fix the problem, and it requires surgery to repair. And this surgery is not pleasant! Basically the ear is cut, and a flap is moved aside. The bone growths are then either drilled or chiseled out of the ear canal. Then there will be at least eight weeks out of the water.

This is an expensive, unpleasant, and invasive surgery, so do yourself a favor and get yourself some earplugs for when you are surfing, or in and out of the water!

Conclusions - Surf Ear Plugs

Recommended Products – Surf Ear Plugs

So now you understand the importance of getting the best earplugs for surfing. You need to keep the cold water out of your ears as much as possible, and the plugs must be attached to you so that you do not keep losing them. Below are more details of the recommended surf ear plugs. These have the best reviews and have all of the factors you should be looking for.

There should be something for everyone in these reviews. Items were chosen at different price intervals to suit all budgets. (Prices go from lowest to highest)

Putty Buddies Original Swimming Earplugs - The Best Swimming Ear Plugs...
  • SOFT SILICONE EARPLUGS. Easy to use and mold to the ear! MUCH MORE soft & comfortable than other ear plugs.
  • RECOMMENDED BY DOCTORS WORLDWIDE. Invented by an Ear, Nose, Throat Physician. HELPS PREVENT SWIMMER’S EAR. Perfect for ear tubes, perforated eardrums, myringotomy, myringotomy tubes, otitis media, and otitis externa.
  • GUARANTEED EAR PROTECTION. Block water from the ear canal! Great for swimming, bathing, surfing, water skiing, canoeing, and kayaking. Perfect for traveling to the pool, lake or beach.
  • TACKY TEXTURE keeps earplugs in place. ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL design. Great for kids and adults! Reusable and last longer than other earplugs.
  • Bright colors are appealing to kids. Kids love them! THE BEST SWIMMING EARPLUGS & EAR PROTECTION. Use with the EAR BAND-IT or EAR BAND-IT ULTRA SWIMMING HEADBAND for best protection.
Oken Audible Swimming Earplugs Pro (Green)
  • SOUND CAN ENTER: Allows sound to enter your ears so you don't need to remove your swim earplugs every time you want to hear something.
  • WATER STAYS OUT: Prevents water from entering the ear canal keeping you safe from ear infections.
  • COMFORTABLE: Brand new design matches perfectly to ear shapes making them extremely comfortable.
  • SWEET and SAFETY DESIGN: Special cord prevent swimming earplugs losing and soft silicone promise enought safety in any conditions.
  • Adjustable size from 27.5 inch to 35.5 inch suit for different person of all ages.
Doc's Pro Plugs -LG
  • Doc's Proplugs are the official earplug of the USSF National Surf Team.
  • Does not obstruct the canal with silicon which is not recommended by the physicians, instead fits in the auricle to ensure ear protection and safety.
  • No messy sticky putty lost in ear.
  • Prevents Surfers ear, also known as exostotis which may lead to costly surgery and deafness.
Ear Band-It Ultra Swimming Headband - Best Swimmer's Headband - Keep...
  • NEW & IMPROVED DESIGN with special features. From the makers of the ORIGINAL swimming headband, the Ear Band-It. The Ear Band-It ULTRA is the most advanced swimmer’s headband in the world!
  • EXTRA GRIP! Made with a custom inner lining that provides extra grip to avoid slipping off the head. ULTRA Grip, ULTRA Strength, ULTRA Comfort… Discover the ULTRA difference yourself!
  • Invented by an ENT Physician and designed to hold earplugs in place while engaging in water activities. RECOMMENDED BY DOCTORS WORLDWIDE. Perfect for ear tubes, perforated eardrums, myringotomy, myringotomy tubes, otitis media, and otitis externa.
  • HELPS PREVENT SWIMMER’S EAR. Great for swimming, bathing, surfing, water skiing, canoeing, and kayaking. Perfect for traveling to the pool, lake or beach. GUARANTEED EAR PROTECTION.
  • KEEPS WATER OUT – HOLDS EAR PLUGS IN. Kids love them! Available in 3 sizes for all ages and the best fit possible. Small for ages 1-3 years. Medium for ages 4-9 years. Large for ages 10-adult.
Creatures of Leisure Surf Ears Plugs 3.0 Red Teal
  • PROTECT YOUR EARS - Keep water out with our cutting edge design double curved wing and tilted core for a secure fit, helps prevent surfer & swimmers ear
  • COMFORTABLE FIT - The silicone surfer earplug tips are thinner, softer, and have a customizable ergonomic design developed to suit a wide variety of ear canal sizes
  • LET SOUND IN KEEP WATER OUT - The worlds only surfer ear plugs that helps protect your ears without affecting your hearing. Our new plugs are designed to let sound in so you can engage with the lineup
  • FAST & EASY TO USE - Improved leash for quick attachment and detachment & a foolproof fitting with color-coded plugs
  • TRAVEL READY - Premium eco-friendly packaging designed for simple, reusable ear plug storage

Last update on 2020-07-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

People Also Ask

What Causes Surfers Ear?

Surfers ear is caused by the cold, either water or wind, continually getting into your outer ears

Exostosis or “Surfers ear” are bone growths in the ear canal between the outer ear and the ear drum. It is believed that these growths are the body’s reaction to the cold, and it is trying to protect the delicate eardrum.

It occurs when cold water, or wind keeps getting into the ear canal, and as a surfer, you are going to continually be exposed to both at the same time. Once you have surfer’s ear, it will not just go away over time (like, for example if you get an ear infection). The extra bone growth will stay and may continue to grow even when you are not in the water.

Some people are more likely to get exostosis that others, also how bad it will get in each person varies. Unfortunately, there is no real way to tell how likely you will be to suffer from this problem. Ear plugs are not expensive, and your ears are one of your essential senses, so do the right thing and get some good surf earplugs before your next trip!

Can Surfers Ear Cause Vertigo?

It is unlikely that Surfer’s Ear will cause vertigo. But it is possible

As mentioned in the above article, there are a lot of problems that can be associated with surfer’s ear. These include impaired hearing, higher risks of infections, a blocked ear sensation, and some pain.

There have been a few cases where people reported feelings of vertigo, but these are few and far between

How Do You Know If You Have Surfers Ear?

The symptoms of Surfers Ears are: Impaired hearing, difficulty draining water from the ears, increased number of ear infections, and sometimes ear pain

As surfers ear is caused by bone growth, it is not something that is going to appear and be a problem overnight. Bone growth is slow, and over time it will get worse and worse.

In general, it will begin to be more noticeable in your 30’s and 40’s, and one ear is usually going to be worse than the other. This may be due to your favored side, and which ear hits the water first, or the direction of the prevailing wind.

The symptoms to look for are

  • Impaired hearing – the bone growths block the canal making hearing more difficult
  • Difficulty draining the ears. The bony growths block the ears making it harder to get all of the water out
  • Increased number of ear infections. The water that remains trapped in the ears provides a warm damp area for bacteria and fungus to grow, leading to diseases
  • Pain. The bone growths can become large painful over time.

Of course, all of these symptoms are very general and can be signs of many ear problems. If you start getting any of these then you should seek medical advice. This problem is easy for your doctor to diagnose.

If you are a younger surfer, then avoid all of these problems in later life by wearing the best surf ear plugs you can find!


If you require more information, please check these references

journals.sagepub.com , article, “External Auditory Exostoses are More Prevalent in Cold Water Surfers124474”, retrieved on, Sun 24-November-2019

jamanetwork.com , article, “Ear Canal Hyperostosis—Surfer’s Ear”, retrieved on, Sun 24-November-2019

jamanetwork.com , article, “Prevalence of External Auditory Canal Exostoses in Surfers”, retrieved on, Sun 24-November-2019

onlinelibrary.wiley.com , article, “The prevalence of exostoses in the external auditory meatus of surfers”, retrieved on, Sun 24-November-2019

Author: Nick

Hi, I am Nick, and I have suffered with ear problems my whole life, mainly tinnitus. I have tried a lot of products to help protect my ears over this period, and several devices to block out the constant ringing

“Are you having problems hearing? If so, those around you already know it. Hearing loss is no laughing matter, so don’t be a punchline.”

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