Exostoses: causes, symptoms and treatment
Exostoses are benign bony growths that can occur in the bony part of the external auditory canal. They are often referred to as ear canal exostoses or surfer's ears, as they occur particularly frequently in water sports enthusiasts such as surfers, divers and swimmers. These bone growths occur when the ear canal is exposed to cold water for a long period of time.
Causes and development
The exact causes for the occurrence of exostoses are not fully understood, but it is assumed that cold water promotes the development of these bone growths. If the ear canal is regularly exposed to cold water over a long period of time, the pressure on the bone tissue increases, which can lead to inflammation. Osteoblasts, cells responsible for the growth of bone, can then be stimulated to form new bone material, eventually leading to exostoses.
In most cases, exostoses go unnoticed until they are discovered during an examination by a doctor. As long as the ear canal is not completely overgrown, they do not cause any symptoms. However, if the ear canal is partially blocked, it can be more difficult to remove water or earwax from the ear, which can lead to inflammation. This can lead to pain and itching in the ear as well as hearing impairment.
An ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT specialist) can diagnose exostoses. An otoscopy or otoscopy is performed to check the condition of the ear canal. During an otoscopy, a device called an otoscope is used to examine the ear canal and the eardrum. A narrowing of the ear canal or the presence of exostoses is visualized.
If the exostoses do not cause any symptoms or only cause minor symptoms, no treatment is required. However, if symptoms such as pain or hearing impairment occur, surgery may be required to remove the exostoses. During surgery, the bony growth is removed to reopen the ear canal. The operation is performed under local anesthesia and is usually a simple procedure.
The best way to avoid exostoses in the ear canal is prevention. Water sports enthusiasts and people who frequently swim or dive in cold water should wear hearing protection to protect the ear canal from long-term damage caused by cold water. Suitable hearing protection devices include earplugs, earmuffs or special neoprene caps that cover the ear canal.
It is also important to clean the ear canal regularly to avoid earwax build-up, which can block the ear canal and lead to inflammation. Some home remedies, such as dripping oil into the ear canal, can help loosen the wax and make it easier to remove. However, it is important not to insert sharp objects or cotton buds into the ear canal, as this can injure the ear canal and lead to infection.
Exostoses in the ear canal are a common complication in water sports enthusiasts and people who frequently swim or dive in cold water. These bony growths are usually benign, but sometimes cause complications such as recurrent infections, pain and hearing loss. Surgical removal of exostoses is usually necessary to avoid complications. The best way to avoid exostoses in the ear canal is prevention through the use of ear protection and regular cleaning of the ear canal.