Hearing & Health

Hearing Loss & Tinnitus: What Should You Be Aware Of When Exercising?

Exercise is a great way to improve your strength and overall health. If you prefer being in a gym, or blasting music/media while exercising, please be aware that excessive workouts and blaring music/media can induce hearing loss or tinnitus. 

Can Lifting Weights Lead to Hearing Loss?

Do your ears get clogged or plugged in while exercising? Engaging in heavy exertion, like straining as you lift weights, leads to intracranial pressure (pressure in the brain). As a result, your ears also feel that pressure. If you also have the habit of holding your breath as you lift heavy weights, additional pressure is added to the inner ear. This is similar to the pressure you feel during take-off while sitting in an airplane. 

How can you avoid this?

Clear your ears by yawning or practicing the Valsalva maneuver: Gently blow your nose, while keeping your mouth closed, and pinch your nostrils shut. Do not lift anything that’s too heavy, and NEVER hold your breath while lifting. If you are working out while you have a cold, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to also take a decongestant.

Do You Notice a Ringing in Your Ears, Post Exercise Session?

When there’s more pressure in your inner ears during or after intense workouts, this can cause perilymphatic fistula (PLF). It happens unexpectedly and the average person isn’t immediately aware of this pressure. PLF is basically a small tear or deformity in the thin membrane located between the inner ear and the middle ear. The tear can be caused by built-up pressure in the inner ear that happens due to excessive straining. A shift in your hearing occurs when the strain from your workout causes fluid from the inner ear to leak through the tear and into the middle ear.

The symptoms of this may include tinnitus, feelings of fullness in the ears, dizziness, and in some instances sensitivity to normal noises.  

Exercise Advice and Precautions for Hearing Health

Your hearing can be negatively impacted by exercise in two central ways:

  1. Straining and holding your breath while engaging in heavy weightlifting. This can harm your inner ears.
  2. Loud music and the sounds of weights clamoring to the ground or bumping into one another.

What You Should Do

  • Lighten the load. Reduce the size of the weight, if you notice that you are straining too much while lifting it. 
  • Wear earplugs to protect your hearing from extremely loud music.
  • Make sure the volume in your headphones or earbuds is at a safe level
  • If you notice hearing loss or tinnitus, get your hearing checked immediately if the change in hearing occurs during or after exercising.

What You Should Not Do

  • Do not hold your breath in order to get more strength. This will increase ear pressure. 
  • Do not practice sports that result in blows to the head, for example, boxing, hockey, soccer, or football. 
  • Do not bang or drop the weights when practicing weight lifting. The sudden sound of dropped weights can reach up to 140 decibels. That’s almost the equivalent of being exposed to a gunshot explosion. If you find yourself doing this too often, use lighter weights that you can slowly put down.
  • Do not strain while weightlifting.
  • Do not ignore symptoms of tinnitus or hearing loss. 

How will you know if a gym or workout room is too loud?

If you need to shout in order to communicate with someone who is close-by, your environment is too loud. 

Also, if you leave the gym or workout room and notice ringing ears and muffled hearing, you probably have damaged hearing. 

When should you get help?

Do not hesitate to practice a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, but remember to be aware of your surroundings and what you can safely handle when working out. If you notice feelings of fullness in your ears, dizziness, muffled hearing, or tinnitus after an intense workout routine, seek help immediately. Contact us at Pure Sound Hearing to schedule an appointment.

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Hearing & Health
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