Why Do My Ears Feel Blocked When I Workout?

If you’ve ever felt like your ears are blocked when you workout, you’re not alone. Here’s what might be causing it and how you can prevent it.

Causes of Blocked Ears

It’s common to experience blocked ears when exercising. This can be annoying and uncomfortable. The good news is that it is usually temporary, but it’s still important to understand the causes of your blocked ears. Some of the common causes include water or sweat entering the ear canal, changes in air pressure, and an infection. Let’s look at each of these causes in more detail.

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

Eustachian tube dysfunction, also known as ETD, occurs when one or both of the eustachian tubes are blocked. The eustachian tubes are the pathways that connect your middle ear to the back of your nose and mouth. This can interfere with your body’s natural ability to equalize pressure in your ears as well as how sound is conducted. In order to understand why this may happen when you work out, it’s important to know why the condition develops in the first place.

When these passages become blocked due to allergies, colds or infections, fluid can build up in the middle ear and cause blockage and pain. This can make it difficult for air pressure to be equalized between your environment and inner ear which causes a feeling of fullness and an inability to hear properly. Working out involves quick movements such as squats or jumping jack which can affect the eustachian tube by causing it to clamp shut or swell up with fluids clogged inside. There are some other common causes of ETD such as sinus blockages or environmental irritants that could explain why many people experience this type of issue when exercising.


Allergies can cause the symptoms of blocked ears because when allergic cells are exposed to particles like dust and pet dander, they release substances called histamines and other inflammatory chemicals that can make your ears congested. If you have allergies, it’s important to limit your exposure to potential allergens to help maintain healthy ear canals.

In some cases, mild allergies may cause fluid and congestion in the eustachian tubes, resulting in a feeling of blocked ears. These tubes become blocked due to inflammation caused by swelling of the nose or throat from pollen or other airborne allergens. This causes buildup of fluids in the middle ear which leads to increased air pressure in the ear. The buildup then results in difficulty hearing or in severe cases, pain and hearing loss. Symptoms can also include dizziness or an itchy sensation inside the ear canal.

If you think that your blocked ears may be caused by allergies, it is recommended that you consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor may recommend medications such as antihistamines and decongestants to help treat the symptoms as well as allergen immunotherapy injections if needed.

Sinus Infections

Sinus infections are one of the most common causes of blocked ears. This is because when your sinuses become infected, mucus builds up in both the nose and throat passages, which can block airflow and lead to ear congestion. In addition, this mucus buildup may cause a decrease in hearing as well as an imbalance in pressure between the inner ear and the outside atmosphere. Some symptoms of a sinus infection include facial pain, sore throat, headache, plugged nose, and coughing. If left untreated, infected sinuses can lead to hearing loss or even permanent damage. Because of this it is important to seek medical attention if you suspect you have a sinus infection. Treatments may include decongestants or antibiotics depending on the severity of the infection.

Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s Ear, formally known as otitis externa, is an infection of the ear canal caused by water that has been trapped in the ear while swimming. This often leads to inflammation, itching, and pain in the outer ear. Swimmer’s Ear can occur in people of any age but is more likely to affect swimmers. If left untreated, it may lead to a bacterial infection, further impairing hearing and causing discomfort.

Common signs and symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear include itching and mild pain inside the ear canal, swelling of the outer ear area and drainage from the affected ear. Other symptoms can include inflammation of the outer layers of skin lining the ear canal, moisture buildup in one or both ears making them feel full or blocked; redness or tenderness inside or around your ears; diminished hearing due to blockage; ringing in your ears; discharge from one or both ears that may be thick, foul-smelling or contain pus; severe pain when you move your head side to side; a feeling that your eardrum is bulging out; headache.

Though mild cases can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications such as otic drops containing hydrocortisone and antibiotics such as neomycin sulfate/polymyxin B sulfate/hydrocortisone otic suspention; more severe cases may require medical attention. Treatment by a healthcare professional may involve antibiotics delivered through drops or an oral medication (in cases where an infection is present). Surgery may also be needed if there is fluid buildup in the middle chamber of your inner ear (otorrhea).


Exercise can have a range of side effects that can be experienced during and after a workout. One of the common side effects is a feeling of blocked ears, which can be due to various reasons. This blockage can be caused by changes in air pressure due to physical activity, increased heart rate, and increased perspiration. It is important to understand the symptoms associated with blocked ears to ensure that you can recognize it and take appropriate action.

Fullness or Pressure in the Ears

When you exercise, your Eustachian tube can become blocked, leading to a feeling of fullness or pressure in your ears. The Eustachian tube is a small channel that connects the middle ear to the throat. It typically stays closed, but opens when we yawn, swallow or chew; it also opens and closes when you move from one altitude to another. This opening and closing of the Eustachian tube helps maintain air pressure and prevent the inner ear from becoming congested with fluid. When this tube becomes blocked during activity—such as running, swimming or lifting weights—it can lead to decreased air pressure in the ear canal and an uncomfortable sensation of fullness or pressure in your ears that can range from mild discomfort to severe pain.

Ear Pain

When you exercise, your body’s cardiovascular system is pushed to its limit, increasing the amount of stress hormones released in the blood. This can lead to an increase in ear pain and blockages. The blockage is caused by a combination of congestion in the Eustachian tube — the passageway between your nose and inner ear — and increased pressure in the middle ear.

Common signs that your ears are feeling blocked when you workout include feeling of fullness and pressure in the ears, muffled hearing, ear ringing or buzzing noise, headaches, dizziness and vertigo episodes. In addition to physical symptoms, there may also be emotional reactions such as anxiety or irritability. If these symptoms are severe or last for more than a few days, it is important to speak with your doctor about possible treatments.

Luckily, preventing or reducing congestion when working out can be relatively simple and straightforward if you understand what causes it in the first place. To start off with, try exercising at a lower intensity as this may help reduce any feelings of dizziness or vertigo associated with blocked ears. Additionally, reducing allergens from your environment can have an effect on Eustachian tube function — avoid dust and pollen if possible during exercise sessions! Lastly, using a decongestant nasal spray prior to intense workouts might help open up the Eustachian tubes before they become blocked off due to increased pressure on them during higher-intensity activities such as running or weight lifting.

Reduced Hearing

One of the most common complaints among people who exercise (~25%) is reduced hearing. When exercising, increased blood flow to the ear and a change in atmospheric pressure can lead to a sensation of blocked ears. This occurs because some physical activities (especially those involving jumping) create an increase in pressure in your inner ear that can temporarily close off your Eustachian tubes. As a result, you may experience muffled sound or reduced hearing.

In addition to exercises that involve jumping, certain swim strokes like the butterfly can also cause this problem as they tend to involve greater exertion and pressure on the inner ear than other strokes. Another issue that arises during exercise is increased sweat production; when sweat accumulates in the ears it turns into a soft wax that not only blocks sounds but also restricts air circulation to the eardrum which also contributes to reduced hearing and a blocked feeling. Therefore it is important to ensure you maintain good hygiene and keep your ears dry when exercising, especially after swimming.

Discharge from the Ears

If you are experiencing a discharge from the ears while working out, they may have become blocked due to sweat or water accumulation. It is also possible that increased pressure in the middle ear, such as when changing altitude during aerobics, can cause fluid to become trapped within the ear. Allergies and/or infections can also block your ears, creating a feeling of fullness and decreased hearing or an inability to ‘pop’ them. As these symptoms will likely worsen if the ears remain blocked, it is important to seek medical attention immediately to address any underlying conditions contributing to your ear discomfort.


Ears feeling blocked during or after exercise is a common problem for many people. In most cases, it is caused by the combination of allergies, inflammation and the buildup of wax and sweat due to increased activity. Fortunately, there are simple prevention techniques that can help reduce or eliminate ear blockage when working out.

First, it is important to remain hydrated before, during and after exercise. Staying properly hydrated helps prevent excess sweat from building up in the ears, which can cause a sense of pressure or discomfort. Additionally, using an over-the-counter saline spray in each ear before exercising can help loosen any wax buildup that might be present and reduce inflammation caused by allergens such as pollen or dust. If necessary, allergy medications can also be taken prior to engaging in strenuous exercise to minimize symptoms.

In some cases, a more permanent solution may be required if allergies cannot be managed through diet and medication alone; if this is the case for you then speak with your doctor about treatments that could potentially address your individual needs such as desensitization therapy or steroid sprays to reduce inflammation inside the ears. With appropriate prevention strategies and medical advice if needed – hsearing should no longer feel blocked while working out!


Ear congestion or blockage resulting from an intense workout can be uncomfortable and even painful, causing discomfort and making it difficult to hear. Fortunately, there are a few treatments that can help clear the blockage and provide relief from the symptoms. In this section, we will go over different treatments for ear congestion to help you get back to a comfortable state.


When it comes to addressing blocked ears when doing exercise, medication should be used in consultation with a medical professional. Depending on the cause of the blockage, treatment may include decongestants designed to offset the blockage or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. Antibiotics may also be prescribed in cases of infection or other conditions that can impact your ears and hearing.

If you have ever experienced a plugged/blocked feeling during physical activity, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Unaddressed cases can result in further complications like serious infections, permanent hearing loss and vertigo symptoms. Your doctor can diagnose exactly what is going on and provide you with relief from this frustrating symptom.


Surgery is a possible solution for individuals experiencing exercise-induced middle ear blockage. One common procedure, called myringotomy, involves making a small incision in the eardrum and having the doctor insert tiny tubes to facilitate air flow. This will help to alleviate the pressure imbalance in the ear and restore normal functioning. The tubes allow air to enter, thus equalizing pressure and potentially decreasing the severity of Eustachian tube dysfunction. It is important to note that surgery carries some risk, including possible scarring of the eardrum or disruption of nerve pathways responsible for hearing or taste sensation. The decision to undergo any surgery should be discussed with your doctor before proceeding.

Home Remedies

Home remedies are a great way to control your symptoms of blocked ears when you work out. Compression techniques and heat, such as hot showers and steam baths, can help increase air pressure in the middle ear and can help relieve the feeling of blocked ears. It may also be helpful to frequently yawn or chew gum while working out as this helps open up Eustachian tubes. Over-the-counter decongestants are available and can be taken orally or sprayed as nasal drops a couple of hours before physical activity starts.

If these techniques do not work then an earplug placed in the ear canal during physical activities like swimming, running or cycling may provide relief from the blockage by providing a seal to prevent air from entering the ear canal from outside. Using antihistamines if allergies are suspected is another option to try. However, it is always important to consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment if home remedies do not bring about any improvement in symptoms.

When to See a Doctor

If you are experiencing persistent or concerning symptoms related to blocked ears, it is important to talk to your doctor. A blocked sensation in the ear can be caused by a wide range of medical conditions, and it is important that you identify the exact cause of your symptoms so that you can receive an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan. It is also important to see a doctor if you experience hearing loss, tinnitus, dizziness or vertigo when working out.

In addition to speaking with your doctor, you should also take steps to protect your hearing while working out. It is especially important when exercising in loud environments like a gym or group classes. Consider wearing earplugs or sound-isolating headphones that use Bluetooth technology — this can help cut down on external noise and keep your ears safe from potential damage. If you frequently experience painful sensations when exercising, consider reducing the intensity level of exercise routines that involve high-impact activities such as running and intense aerobics — these activities can cause additional strain on your ear muscles which could lead to further discomfort or blockage in the ear canal.

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