Austin Gendron
(Thursday) 3.24.16

Clear ear: preventing prolonged breaks from surfing

With spring upon us, its time to start thinking about upwelling events and cooler waters as those NW winds start to blow down the California coast. We’re also likely to see a few more rain events before the North Pacific Jet stream heads back north for its summer slumber.  The colder temperatures and dirty water can do a number on your ears as a surfer, so we thought we’d catch up with Gavin Ogami, a surfer from Huntington Beach, CA.  Gavin is part of the Clear Ear team, a company based out of San Francisco that focuses on making ears happier.

Clear Ear started as a class project at the Stanford Biodesign Program, where co-founders Lily Truong, a biomechanical engineer, and Dr. Vandana Jain, a surgeon, met. Lily has firsthand experience with hearing impairment after her mother went deaf in her left ear years ago and has seen that preventative ear health is a space that hasn’t seen a lot of innovation.  Anyone who has had surgery for surfers ear, or had an ear drum burst after a nasty infection induced by dirty water (most painful month of my life), can attest to that. … So the founders spun out Clear Ear from Stanford University to bring about the missing innovation in the ear health space. Here’s what Gavin had to say about Clear Ear and its drive curb hearing loss and his experience with it as a surfer.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and Clear Ear.

I’m Gavin and I first started surfing on the Central Coast.  After college I moved to Huntington Beach, where I’ve been living for the past 10 or so years.  In the colder waters, surfers ear is a larger concern than ear infections. Moving to Huntington shifted my focus from surfers ear to possible ear infections from the water quality. Working for Clear Ear has allowed me to help educate myself on the importance of proper ear hygiene. Since existing options are very limited, it brings me great pleasure to be a part of creating new superior ear cleaning options and making them available to the public.

What can you tell us about ear health and surfing?

Winter is the season for big swells and epic surf.  Along with the great waves also comes some additional challenges.  For some of us, this time of year brings an increase in waterborne ear infections due to rainfall runoff causing more pollution and bacteria in the water.  It seems that the more years a person surfs in dirty water, the more frequently these issues tend to occur.  This is when ear hygiene can make the difference between an ear infection keeping you out of the water or being able to stay in the lineup.

What kind of preventative action do you take in order to keep yourself from having ear issues.

The most effective way of preventing bacteria from getting into your ears is with ear plugs.  Unfortunately, surfing ear plugs can push ear wax deeper into the ear canal.  This can lead to a build up of excess ear wax that without regular ear hygiene can result in ear infection and even hearing loss.  I routinely use the Clear Ear Oto-Tip, because it allows a simple automated solution to getting out that wax. The spinning swab is safe and easily removes the wax from my ears without damaging the fragile inner ear. The safety cap will prevent you from pushing the tip too far into your ear, and you’ll get into the habit of an easier, safer clean.

Gavin pointed us to this video that shows how its works.  Kind of like one of those fancy tooth brushes, but for your ear.

So to prevent ear infections and excess ear wax buildup that can lead to you being left standing on the beach during the next big swell, ear hygiene is essential to make sure to keep your ears clear and free of bacteria.  Clear Ear is a better way to clean your ears. 

For a little more information about ear health, check out the Clear Ear blog, we also picked out a couple of posts that we thought you might find interesting.

What is Swimmer’s Ear and What are the Symptoms?

How to Treat Swimmer’s Ear?

How to Clean Your Ears? Best Ways to Remove Ear Wax

  • Panama Red

    50/50 solution of alcohol and coconut oil…much cheaper just as effective.

  • Sali Soli

    Thank you so much for this useful and valuable information. Super your blog, congratulations!

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