Can Exercise Threaten Your Hearing Health?

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exercise and tinnitus

exercise and tinnitus

No one would question that physical exercise is good for your health. After all, regular physical exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and decrease your risk for conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

However, does that mean physical exercise is without its own dangers? Not when it comes to your hearing! It may seem unconnected, but working out can lead to hearing loss or tinnitus. Here are the greatest risk factors to your hearing when working out:

  • Weightlifting

Weightlifting poses two main threats to your hearing: strain and noise. If you strain while lifting weights, it can cause intracranial pressure or pressure in the brain. If you hold your breath while lifting, this increases the pressure even more.

If the strain is too great, you may suffer from a perilymphatic fistula (PLF). A PLF is a small tear or defect in the membrane that separates the inner ear from the middle ear. Most people are unaware of when a PLF occurs. If the strain continues in future workouts after the PLF occurs, fluid may leak from the inner ear into the middle ear, causing hearing changes. Symptoms of this condition include ear fullness, tinnitus, dizziness, and sensitivity to normal noises.

The noise of weightlifting can also threaten your hearing health. If weights are dropped or smashed, the noise level is similar to that of a gunshot, which can lead to hearing loss. In fact, the loud noise could even cause permanent hearing loss and the onset of tinnitus.

  • Loud music

If you’ve been to a gym lately, you’ve probably noticed that most gyms like to keep the music at a loud volume. While peppy music can put an extra zing in your step while working out, the noise can damage your hearing if the volume is too loud. Especially when combined with the sound of weights being dropped and the noise of other workout machines, the risk for hearing damage is high.

Now, the solution ISN’T to stop exercising. Here are a few simple steps you can take to decrease the risk of hearing damage while you exercise:

  1. Do not strain while lifting weights. If you have to strain to lift a weight, reduce the weight you’re lifting.
  2. Do not hold your breath while lifting weights.
  3. Do not drop or bang weights.
  4. If the music is too loud in your gym or in an exercise class, ask the instructor to turn down the volume. If they do not comply, wear earplugs to keep the volume at a safe level.
  5. If you listen to your own music while exercising, make sure you keep the music at a safe volume.
  6. If you have experienced changes in your hearing, avoid sports that could result in a blow to the head. These sports include boxing and wrestling.
  7. Get your hearing checked immediately if you notice any signs of hearing change or loss. Symptoms may include muffled hearing, ringing in the ears, dizziness, or fullness in the ears.

If you believe you may be experiencing hearing loss, or if you would like more information about how to protect your hearing during physical exercise, please contact our audiologist office today.

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