Could your exercise program be causing hearing loss?
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.
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“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.”
·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.