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Ear pressure during excersize
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Imprezme00 posted:
About 2 years ago I had a sudden intense pressure in both of my ears, with no pain. Since then, when ever I excersize, I get a less intense pressure in both of my ears, but enough to make it so I can't work out. I have been to countless doctors with no explanation. One doctor said it had to do with my allergies???? Don't buy that. I'm at the point now where I'm a twig because I can't work out longer than 5 minutes without having pressure in my ears, hindering my ability to excersize properly. It has also happened random times after a cigarette(which I have quit smoking). I know that I am breathing right, and drinking plenty fluids. I'm almost at the point of going to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester to have doctors that actually know what they are doing, take a look at me.

Do you have any ideas????
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Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
You may have Exercise-Induced Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?

Exercise increases blood supply to all parts of the body. Along with this increased proliferation of blood, comes tissue engorgement...this is why your skin becomes red or flushed. When the tissue engorgement is around your eustachian tubes -- those tiny ventilation tubes that run from your middle ear space (the area on the other side of your eardrum) to the back of your throat -- it may cause the tubes to malfunction. Cigarette smoking can also cause eustachian tube dysfunction.

If the eustachian tubes clog, your ears may feel full / stuffy, and your hearing could be a bit muffled, like they need to "pop". If the e-tubes lock in the "open" position (they are normally closed and only open briefly when we swallow), you may hear your own voice or an echo.

As long as this exercise-induced eustachian tube dysfunction resolves after you cool down, there is no need to be concerned. Unfortunately, there may be little that you can do to prevent this from occurring, other than reducing the intensity of your exercise. Some ENTs will try nasal corticosteroid sprays or recommend ibuprofen, so these approaches may be worth a try.
 
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Imprezme00 responded:
I like this answer a lot better than the "I don't know" answers I have been getting over the past 2 years. I guess I will continue to try QVar and keep up on my decongestant allergy meds.

Thanks A lot Doc!
 
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Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
Or, you can just give up exercise, sit home in a reclining chair, and get fat. Obviously not a good suggestion. I hope the medications help, but if not, you may have to alter your exercise regime to match your body's responses.
 
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kapadapa responded:
Thank you so much!

I have had this problem for some time now and could not figure out why my ears clog up. It usually occurs when I run over 15Km ( I run long distance races ). A few days ago I ran about 20 Km and my ears were so clogged up I couldn't even have a conversation with the other runners. It was extremely annoying and prevented me getting a proper breathing rhythm, which inturn hampered my running form, made me breathe irregular and get tired faster.

Interestingly it doesn't happen all the time. This occasion when it occurred we stopped for a long water break and i drank alot and doused myself with water - I thought that it might have been the cause of the ear clog, as in water getting into my ears. I also thought it could have been sweat flowing into my ears from my head!

The other long runs my ears were fine! those run were equally as "wet" but we ran up/down hill. Shorter runs I usually have mucus build up in my nose (not too much - which I blow out)

I will try to use the nasal spray the next time it happens ~ I really would like to find a solution to this problem! I was planning to use ear plugs the next time to prevent water or sweat getting into my ear but will re-consider this option.

Should I take a couple of spurts of the nasal spray BEFORE I run , instead of when it occurs ( during the run) as a preventive measure - would that work????

Thanks again!
 
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Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
Water or sweat getting into your ear is not a cause. This is most likely an issue involving the Eustachian tubes and the middle ear space.

You can TRY a short-acting nasal decongestant before you run. It may or may not help, but if it does....let me know. It is not so much "congestion" that is causing this problem, but rather tissue engorgement due to the increased blood supply during exercise.
 
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kapadapa responded:
Thank you so much Doc - this advice really means alot to me!

I was hoping that taking a nasal spray before the race would help - i was wondering whether this is the same approach ENT's would when you said "Some ENTs will try nasal corticosteroid sprays or recommend ibuprofen" ( earlier post).

If not then it seems that I'll have to keep pouring water over me when running so I dont get so hot that it triggers this condition (ETD).

Is there anything on the market that could help - aspirin ? anything?

Thanks again!!!
 
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Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
So far, no one has really come up with an effective preventative for this annoying, but innocent condition....

Some people get headaches when the run, but if they take ibuprofen before running, they STILL get the headaches. As long as your personal experimentation is harmless, you can try some of the ETD treatments, but I am not sure they will work since it is the inflammation that is the underlying problem. I don't think that aspirin or ibuprofen - both anti-inflammatory medications -- will work fast enough to be used as a preventative for this type of ETD.

Pouring water over yourself should not help either....but does it?
 
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kapadapa responded:
Thanks for the advice Doc,

I had an awful race yesterday. It was a half marathon (UWI international half marathon) and my ears clogged up after 15 Km and I couldnt breathe, I was gasping for air....just terrible! It caused me to loose focus...rhythm...get anxious...etc etc!

The clog in the ears feels like my head has swelled, can't hear anything and my lungs were not working at full capacity .

I didnt take any aspirin etc...but it did pour lots of water on myself which didnt help one bit!

I will continue to research the problem and see what I can do to relieve the symptoms.

Thanks again for all your help! I sure do appreciate it!
 
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Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
This may or may not be a viable solution, but talk to your doctor or ENT about taking a short course (blast) of prednisone prior to running. Prednisone is a steroid, of course, but it is not a performance-enhancing steroid, so don't get too excited about zipping across the finish line first. Remember, that this problem is mostly an inflammatory response, and prednisone is a potent anti-inflammatory. I think it would be a 50/50 chance that it would help, since this tissue engorgement is mostly due to BLOOD, and you sort of need that blood...in that area near your brain...in order to function. I know you are desperate for a soltution, and I don't feel this will really help, but talk to your doctor about it.

Sadly, we often have to give up or curtail activities that we love because of medical reasons. You may have one of these situations. I know you do not want to hear this, but in medicine.....if something hurts, the advice is NOT to do the thing that hurts! Pain and discomfort is a premitive warning system in our bodies to tell us not to do something. If you put your finger in a flame and it burns, your brain tells you not to do this again. Right now, you are really ignoring or trying to circumvent these warning signals. I hope you find a preventative solution, but I am not sure that you will.
 
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kapadapa responded:
I'll take your advice!

And you are so correct about not wanting to curtail an activity that one likes because of medical reasons ~ that would be most unfortunate!...extremely sad too.

I will see an ENT and ask about 'prednisone' that you recommended.

I really do hope that it does work and solves this problem/mystery!

A million and one thanks Doc and I'll let you know the eventual outcome ( since I'm taking a break from running for about a week)
 
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danielwp responded:
I would like to describe my similar problem in a bit more detail. I've experienced the Exercise-Induced Eustachian Tube Dysfunction where the e-tubes would be locked open and I could hear myself breathing like darth vader. It happened after over-exerting myself during cardio. It lasted about 5 minutes and went away. That has only happened once and now I don't over-exert myself during cardio anymore. No problems.

The ear problem that I AM currently having is from lifting weights. I am by no means a body builder, though I am certainly lifting heavy weights for my body as I am trying to increase strength. I try to do it with proper breathing by exhaling on the lift. While it's not causing the darth vader sensation, I am feeling like there is pressure in my ears, as if something is in them. Particularly in my left ear. As you suggest, it could be the e-tubes being engorged with blood but not being locked open. What worries me though is that the pressure sensation will last for days after lifting the weights. Am I damaging my eardrums?
 
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Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
The same thing is likely happening, Daniel....the e-tubes are being compromised when you lift, just like exercise. Assuming you are not holding your breath and staining (a valsalva manuever), this will not likely cause damage to your eardrums or ears...but it may continue to annoy you from time to time.
 
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gpierson replied to Rod_Moser_PA_PhD's response:
I'm glad someone asked this and you posted it. I have this very issue. EVERY time I do pushups/pullups to the point of exhaustion, I get ear popping, open ears, hear myself breathing, dimished hearing ability. Annyoing, but not painful and it goes away in 10 - 15 min after I cool down.

Thanks,
gpierson.
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to gpierson's response:
Join this growing cadre of people that have this same problem....over the years on this site, I suspect I have addressed this issue dozens of times. There is very little, if any, information i the medical literature about this phenomena.

Thanks for posting.


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