There is no doubt that exercise is suitable for both the body and the mind. However, if a crowded gym is your preferred location to work out, be cautious: excessive effort combined with loud music might cause hearing loss or tinnitus. While it is a rare case, it is not unheard of.
Situations Where Exercise Could Affect Your Hearing
Practicing the wrong movements or not taking enough precautions could lead to physical injuries and even hearing loss. However, the fear of losing your hearing shouldn’t discourage you from attaining physical fitness. Here are some situations that you should keep in mind to avoid potentially endangering your hearing health:
1. Holding Your Breath While Lifting Weights
Serious effort, such as straining when lifting weights, generates intracranial pressure (pressure within the brain), which leads to ear pressure or holding your breath. At the same time, lifting adds even more pressure on the inner ear. This is similar to the pressure change you feel on a flight.
Clear your ears ahead of time (by yawning). Never lift anything too heavy, and never hold your breath. If you’re working out while suffering from a cold, you might consider taking a decongestant as well.
2. Smashing Weights on the Floor
When most weightlifters work out in a weightlifting gym, they drop the heavy weights on the ground after the fatigue of lifting. If we measure the noise level of a weightlifting room, we’ll find that the sound of a heavyweight being dropped to the ground is as loud as a shotgun blast or an airbag deploying. If someone dropped a weight near your ear, you may lose your hearing forever or get tinnitus. While most gyms have cushioned floors in weightlifting rooms, if the noise bothers you or a gym member does not respect others’ space while lifting weights, speak with the gym management to see what can be done.
3. Loud Gym Music
Gyms frequently pump up the music to ear-splitting intensity, sometimes well over 90–100 decibels (dB), to push athletes for challenging exercises . When loud music is combined with noise from stationary cycles, elliptical trainers, and treadmills, as well as the smashing of heavyweights, you have the perfect formula for permanent noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus.
How do you know if the music is too loud? If you leave your Zumba class or gym workout with ringing ears and impaired hearing, you have probably injured the fragile hair cells in your inner ear. You may also test noise levels in real-time by downloading a smartphone app. It also helps to determine how loud is too loud.
While your hearing may improve in the near term, your ears are less likely to heal over time, predisposing you to hear loss. Although some publications claim that a few trainers and gyms are unwilling to turn down the music, it never hurts to ask. Sometimes a simple request may raise awareness that benefits everyone in the gym. If that fails, carry a pair of earplugs with you. You’ll still be able to hear your favorite songs and the trainer’s instructions, just at a lower volume.
Don’t be afraid to attempt to get active and healthy; be aware of the risks to your hearing health. If you develop ear fullness, impaired hearing, tinnitus, or dizziness after vigorous activity, get immediate medical attention.
If you’re worried about exercise-induced hearing loss, know that it’s a valid and treatable concern. All you have to do is get checked by one of our hearing consultants at Hear More Associates. Book an appointment with a hearing specialist in Massachusetts today!