Protect Your Hearing During Exercise

Most of the time you hear how healthy exercise is for your body. Everyone is told that at least mild exercise is beneficial for improving your health. Walking and other low impact exercises are excellent for much of your body such as your cardiovascular system and weight management. It’s also great for relieving stress and tension.

For the many thousands of people who go to they gym regularly, the multitude of classes and equipment available to you is extensive. And while much of it is excellent for your overall health, there are some things to keep in mind while your exercising.

The ears are very sensitive part of the body and therefore need protection. During exercise people exert a lot of energy and often strain to achieve a goal. Activities like lifting weights takes a lot of effort in some cases and the excessive straining involved can cause pressure within the brain, or intracranial pressure. This will cause even more pressure in the ears, which causes them to become plugged. People experience the same sensations as they would in an airplane.

Holding your breath while straining also results in this issue. In order to prevent plugged ears, don’t hold your breath. Be sure to yawn or chew gum prior to lifting and be aware of your lifting limits. Don’t lift too much weight. For people who have a cold and still choose to work out, consider using a decongestant to decrease any sinus pressure.

If you suffer from a sudden and unexpected increase of pressure in your ears while working out or afterward, you might be suffering from a perilymphatic fistula (PLF). This can be caused by inner ear pressure brought on while straining. This defect or tiny tear in the inner ear can cause changes in hearing which result from the inner ear fluid leaking into the middle ear via the small tear.

Other symptoms of PLF are dizziness or vertigo, the feeling of ear fullness, and tinnitus or ringing in the ear. Being abnormally sensitive to regular noises is also common. Coughing, sneezing, and straining can increase these symptoms, and your doctor may recommend bed rest to allow the PLF time to heal. By carefully monitoring your exercise routine, you can reduce the chances of PLF.

For those who lift weights, there are other potential concerns as well. Many people try to increase their lifting capacity and thus have a difficult time controlling the weights on their descent to the ground. Often, they hit the ground with a crash as the weightlifter has exceeded their limits and can’t assist on the descent.

This crash can happen at a decibel level of 140 decibels or more. This is comparable to the decibel level of an airbag exploding or a gunshot. It’s enough to give someone close by permeant hearing loss. At the lower end of the spectrum, it can cause tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, for some time to come.

If you’re lifting, be mindful of both yourself and others around you when you stack weights. Don’t let them clang together and try to slow the descent of the weight bar so it doesn’t crash to the ground. Many gyms try to combat the impact by using a padded floor covering and asking those who use the weights to be considerate of the rules of weight lifting.

Another factor of concern to your hearing is workout music. If you join others at the gym, whether it’s in a group class setting or on the equipment, there is usually music. Often it’s loud and fast-paced so that it provides motivation to the listener. In many classes, it’s also meant to keep the beat for certain routines.

The volume of the music can have a direct impact on your hearing. Long term exposure to loud noises can result in a decreased ability to hear. Because of the intent of the music in these facilities, it’s usually pretty loud. These decibel levels have been recorded at 90+ decibels.

Besides the music blasting around you, your ears must also suffer the sounds of everything else in the room, such as heavy weights hitting the ground, ellipticals, treadmills, and other equipment. Some gyms even have televisions located near the stationary bikes and ellipticals for members to use.

If you have sensations of ringing in the ears or things sound more muffled after you leave the gym, it’s possible that the sensitive hairs within the inner ear were damaged. Recovery may not take long but repeat experiences like this can result in permanent hearing loss.

Decibel levels for those who exercise with earbuds should also be monitored. With these small devices being thrust deeper into the ear canal to keep them from falling out combined with trying to hear your own music while in a crowded room can be detrimental to your hearing. It’s important to keep your music down to a lower decibel level to prevent long term hearing loss

By being aware of these situations, you can control your access to things that can deteriorate your hearing. Use noise limiting earplugs when you can’t control your surroundings. Don’t strain while lifting weights, and steer clear of any sports that can cause you to suffer even a minimal blow to the head.

If you do have symptoms of hearing loss, contact us today to make an appointment to evaluate the condition. The sooner you treat these issues, the better.


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