WATER IS LIFE!
It is the most essential element for life on this planet. It is the most essential element in our own bodies – It is literally in our DNA!
For many of us, WATER is also a LIFESTYLE. We are drawn to water. It makes us feel whole and energized, it nurtures our creativity and our souls.
Unfortunately, it is also terrible for our ears.
Our ears are incredibly complex organs made up of three main parts: the outer, middle, and inner ear. They all work together to manage your hearing, balance, directional sense, and more. A problem in one part of the ear can affect all the other parts.
Water is the number one cause of ear issues.
Many people can go their whole lives without a single ear issue, but those who do have problems usually suffer over and over again. It also gets worse over time resulting in all kinds of issues, including hearing loss. Let’s discuss some of the most common ear issues.
Trapped water is the most common ear affliction. This is when you experience a feeling of blockage or pressure in the ear canal after being in the water. We’ve all either been or seen the person jumping on one leg with their head to the side or stuffing towels, tissues, or cotton swabs in their ears. It’s incredibly uncomfortable and enough to drive a person crazy.
Water is a sticky molecule, the property of “cohesion” means it sticks to itself and also to our skin. When water gets into the ear, a narrow ear canal, wax buildup and other factors reduce its ability to come out easily and so it “sticks”. Trapped water is normally not a dangerous thing by itself but it can lead to more serious issues.
Swimmer’s Ear (otitis externa) is a bacterial infection in the outer ear canal. When water stays in the ear canal for a long period of time it creates a warm and moist environment. This is an ideal nursery for any pathogens that exist in the water to grow. Once the bad bacteria has a foothold and is able to penetrate the skin it is very difficult to get rid of. Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed remedies, but will also kill the natural bacteria your body needs for ear health. If you are immune-compromised or if you let the issues go untreated, these infections can turn into really big problems. If you are curious, look up necrotizing otitis externa or malignant otitis externa.
With repeated swimmers ear issues, even if treated immediately, tissue damage will occur and long term hearing loss is common.
Surfer’s Ear is a condition caused by water in the ear canal coupled with wind or cold. The prevailing theory is that cold water and wind cause increased blood flow in the ear canal. This in turn causes the bone in the ear canal to grow abnormally (exostosis) and slowly close off the ear canal. This is an extremely common condition in regular surfers. In fact, a study done on professional surfers in Australia showed that 100% of them suffered from some degree of surfer’s ear. This condition also affects divers, ocean swimmers, and anyone who spends a lot of time in the water. Treatment usually requires surgical intervention in the form of drills and/or chisels to remove the bone growth. I personally know people who have had to endure multiple surgeries of this type.
Prevention is Key!
When I think of prevention, I think of how we can assure that no part of the problem ever starts.
Alcohol based drying agents are suggested by many doctors and online articles. This method uses alcohol based ear drying drops AFTER being in the water. The prevailing wisdom is to dry out the ear canal and kill any bad bacteria that might have gotten in during your time in the water.
To me this is a little like putting on sunblock after you have been in the sun. Sure, it might soothe the burn but why get the burn in the first place? It does not do anything for you while you are in the water. Most of the damage is happening while in the water, not after you get out.
Alcohol is also terrible for your skin, especially the sensitive skin of your ear canal. It dries out and burns the skin causing micro cracks which provide access for bad bacteria, especially if used regularly. If that isn’t bad enough, it kills the good bacteria in your ear too.
So, it’s actually more like using a chemical peel to remove the sunburnt skin after being sunburned. Makes sense right?
No! The key is to protect the ears while in the water.
Ear Plugs go a long way to achieve this, they prevent water from getting into the ears and also prevent wind and cold from accelerating bone growth. The negative is that they restrict your hearing, can affect your balance and are not 100% effective at keeping water out. If you are a surfer and have been on the wrong side of a good wave, you know that nothing you have on your person that is not tied on will still be with you when you come back to the surface.
Headbands and hoods help keep the wind and cold out and help slow the development of surfer’s ear but do little for preventing water in the ears.
For divers, ear plugs are not really an option. There have been attempts to design plugs that allow equalization without letting water in the ears but they are problematic at best.
The New Solution is Ear Pro.
I grew up sailing, surfing, and swimming. I have worked as a scuba instructor for more than 20 years and spend a lot of time in, on, or near the water. As a result, I have suffered substantial hearing loss and trapped water is a regular occurrence for me. After trying every witch’s brew and technique on offer, we looked at the problem from a preventative angle.
Ear Pro was designed as a true preventative to spray in your ears BEFORE you get in the water. It was also designed to take care of all of these issues while using natural ingredients and supporting natural ear health.
Ear Pro has a special applicator which allows you to get a spray into the ear canal where it coats the skin up to the eardrum with a water repellent layer. Think Rain-X or a freshly waxed car. Water molecules cannot “stick” to the skin and just flow out. As it is a medical grade mineral oil, it also helps to keep the ear clear of excessive ear wax.
Ear Pro also contains a small amount of Oregano oil which is high in Carvacrol and Thymol. Both Thymol and Carvacrol have been proven in clinical trials to kill the 4 bacteria and 2 fungi that cause the majority of ear infections. It is also effective against red tide and other algae blooms while not damaging our own cells at all.
Ear Pro protects your ears for at least two hours of water exposure and with its thin insulative layer and prevention of water sticking to the skin. It can also be used together with ear plugs as a double preventative.
Ear Pro is not the only way to protect your ears of course. Alcohol drops and ear plugs are effective remedies and if they work for you, use them. Your hearing, balance and directional sense are key to your enjoyment of life and the water and we implore you to take them seriously. Protect your ears and those of your family and community.