Could your exercise program be causing hearing loss?
Contributed by Lisa Packer, staff writer, Healthy Hearing | Monday, January 25th,
With the New Year upon us, it is likely that many of you have resolved to finally start exercising, and to make this the year to get fit. Perhaps spring break is looming, and you have visions of finally getting that buff beach body you always wanted. Or maybe you just want to start exercising more for your overall health. There is no denying that exercise is beneficial to the body and mind. But be careful, because that new fitness routing might come with an unpleasant side effect: hearing loss.
Straining or holding your breath
during exercise can cause pressure
to build up in the inner ear.
One fitness program in particular, which is rapidly gaining a cult following across the nation, can also have negative consequences for your hearing if you are not careful. CrossFit, which is a training program first used by the police and military special forces, is a high intensity workout that combines weightlifting, cardio, core training and more. Designed to push the body to its limits, CrossFit can deliver results in the form of peak physical fitness. But some participants are paying a high price for getting in shape.
Two common practices to avoid
You may be asking, “What does exercise have to do with my ears?” To illustrate, let’s look at two common practices that can occur during the weightlifting portion of CrossFit. The first of these is straining. Straining causes intracranial pressure (pressure within the brain) which in turn leads to pressure within the ears. The next is breath holding, which some swear gives them an extra boost in weight lifting by solidifying the core and supporting the spine. However what happens when you hold your breath? More pressure in the inner ear.
The pressure in the inner ear can lead to changes in the hearing during or after intense exercise as a result of a perilymphatic fistula, or PLF, which occurs unexpectedly and which most people aren’t aware of right away. Simply put, a PLF is a small tear or defect in the thin membrane between the inner ear and the middle ear. The tear itself can be caused by the pressure in the inner ear due to straining; hearing changes occur when the strain of subsequent workouts causes fluid from the inner ear to leak through the tear and into the middle ear.
It’s not just CrossFit
CrossFit isn’t the only culprit, certainly. Though devotees of CrossFit in particular, due to the culture in which participants are encouraged to strain themselves to the absolute limits, need to be mindful of the risks to their hearing, other forms of exercise can cause strain as well. Even running or intense yoga poses can cause changes in hearing. And any exercise in a gym setting can bring the risk of hearing loss. The crashing weights and loud music which have become the norm in gyms everywhere can lead to irreversible noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus.
“I never actually took a sound level meter to the smashing of weights in a weight room, but it is likely that even short durations of loud intense weights dropping, can have the same potential damage to hearing as a shotgun blast or an air bag deploying,” said Rachel Raphael, M.A., CCC-A, an audiologist with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore and a certified group fitness instructor. “If in fact, the smashing weights are in this range for volume, it wouldn’t take much for the person at close range to suffer permanent damage, in the way of high frequency sensorineural hearing loss and/or tinnitus as a symptom secondary to the damage in the cochlea.”
Dos and don’ts for healthy hearing during exercise
No matter what form of exercise you choose, here are some dos and don’ts to ensure you are taking care of your hearing while working out.
·Do: Get a hearing check immediately if you experience any change in hearing during or after exercise.
·Do: Drop your weight down to reduce strain. Reducing the strain will reduce the intracranial pressure, and possibly prevent a PLF from occurring.
·Do: If you are noticing hearing problems during or after exercise, experiment to find the level of exercise at which you are no longer experiencing changes to your hearing.
·Do: Protect your hearing in the gym. Wear earplugs to safeguard against loud music, or keep headphones at a reasonable volume to avoid long term damage in the form of noise-induced hearing loss.
·Do: As you age, do less straining during exercise, especially in the form of heavy lifting.
·Don’t: Hold your breath to get that extra boost of strength, as holding your breath increases the pressure within the ears.
·Don’t: Strain during weight lifting.
·Don’t: Participate in sports which can result in blows to the head, such as boxing or wrestling, if you are experiencing changes in your hearing.
·Don’t: Bang the weights when weight lifting. That sudden noise can reach a level as high as 140 decibels, which is like being exposed to a gunshot or explosion.
·Don’t: Ignore symptoms, thinking they will just go away.
When to seek help
What should you look for? Symptoms such as fullness in the ears, muffled hearing or dizziness after intense exercise are definitely not normal, and should be checked out by a medical professional. So go ahead and make 2016 the year for a healthy body; just make sure to keep your hearing healthy at the same time.
Tinnitus is sometimes the first sign of hearing loss in older people. It also can be a side effect of medications. More than 200 drugs are known to cause tinnitus when you start or stop taking them.
A number of medications may cause or worsen tinnitus. Generally, the higher the dose of these medications, the worse tinnitus becomes. Often the unwanted noise disappears when you stop using these drugs. Medications known to cause or worsen tinnitus include:
•Antibiotics, including polymyxin B, erythromycin, vancomycin and neomycin …
•Cancer medications, including mechlorethamine and vincristine
•Water pills (diuretics), such as bumetanide, ethacrynic acid or furosemide
•Quinine medications used for malaria or other health conditions
•Certain antidepressants may worsen tinnitus
•Aspirin taken in uncommonly high doses (usually 12 or more a day)
If ringing in the ears occurs after you have taken a medicine:
Call the doctor who prescribed the medicine to determine whether you should stop taking the medicine or take a different one. An appointment may not be needed.
If you are taking a nonprescription medicine, stop taking it. Call your doctor if you feel you need to continue taking the medicine
New Years is a noisy time of year with fireworks, noisemakers, bars, yelling and screaming crowds, and other loud sounds piercing the environment. Fireworks and firecrackers have been found to register noise levels of 162 dB and 150 dB, respectively. To avoid experiencing hearing loss as a result of exposure to loud noises this New Year’s Eve you should adhere to these tips:
1. Invest in a set of inexpensive foam earplugs, available at local Pharmacy’s. These can reduce noise by as much as 30 db.
2. Hearing aid users should adjust their program memory settings for noise reduction or a reduced level in the music setting. If their instrument doesn’t have this feature, a pair of noise-reducing earmuffs can be of benefit.
3. If children are joining you at New Year’s celebrations make hearing protection a family affair. Talk to your kids about the importance of wearing hearing protection.
These precautions should help prevent people from damaging their hearing or developing a temporary case of tinnitus. It’s not just the excessive noise of football stadiums, but also some of the most routine celebratory events that can be damaging to ears.
Have a Careful, Noise Reduced, New Year’s Eve and a Happy New Year from Hearing And Audiology.
Humor can sometimes make lite of a serious situation – but it’s a great way to break the ice and start a conversation.
Hearing and quality of life are closely linked. Poor hearing affects both the person with the loss and those with whom they communicate. A comprehensive study on the effects of untreated hearing loss on adults as well as their families found that hearing loss impacts on our social, emotional, psychological and physical well-being.
An elderly gentleman…
Had serious hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the gentleman to hear 100% .
The elderly gentleman went back in a month to the doctor and the doctor said, ‘Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again.’
The gentleman replied, ‘Oh, I haven’t told my family yet.
I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I’ve changed my will three times!’
Three old guys are out walking.
First one says, ‘Windy, isn’t it?’
Second one says, ‘No, it’s Thursday!’
Third one says, ‘So am I. Let’s go get a beer.’
A man was telling his neighbor, ‘I just bought a new hearing aid. It cost me four thousand dollars, but it’s state of the art. It’s perfect.’
‘Really,’ answered the neighbor ‘What kind is it?’
‘ Twelve thirty.’
And one more…
Morris, an 82 year-old man, went to the doctor to get a physical.
A few days later, the doctor saw Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young woman on his arm.
A couple of days later, the doctor spoke to Morris and said, ‘You’re really doing great, aren’t you?’
Morris replied, ‘Just doing what you said, Doc: ‘Get a hot mamma and be cheerful.”
The doctor said, ‘I didn’t say that. I said, ‘You’ve got a heart murmur; be careful.’