The Prevalence and Severity of External Auditory Exostosis in Young to Quadragenarian-Aged Warm-Water Surfers: A Preliminary Study

Vini Simas, Wayne Hing, James Furness, Joe Walsh, Mike Climstein

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External auditory exostosis (EAE) has previously only been shown to occur in cold water surfers. We assessed young surfers living and surfing in Queensland, Australia, for EAE in water temp ranges from 20.6 °C (69.1 °F, Winter) to 28.2 °C (82.8 °F, Summer). All participants underwent a bilateral otoscopic examination to assess the presence and severity of EAE. A total of 23 surfers participated with a mean age of 35.4 years (8.3 years) and a mean surfing experience of 20.0 years (9.9 years). Nearly two-thirds of participants (n = 14, 60.9%) had regular otological symptoms, most commonly water trapping (n = 13, 56.5%), pain (n = 8, 34.8%), and hearing loss (n = 6, 26.1%). Only 8.7% (n = 2) of all surfers reported regular use of protective equipment (e.g., earplugs) on a regular basis. The overall prevalence of exostosis was 69.6% (n = 16), and the majority (n = 12, 80.0%) demonstrated bilateral lesions of a mild grade (<33% obstruction of the external auditory canal). This is the first study assessing EAE in young surfers exposed to only warm waters (above 20.6 °C). The prevalence of EAE in this study highlights that EAE is not restricted to cold water conditions, as previously believed. Warm water surfing enthusiasts should be screened on a regular basis by their general medical practitioner and utilize prevention strategies such as earplugs to minimize exposure to EAE development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2020


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