Why Do My Ears Feel Clogged When Working Out?

If you’ve ever felt like your ears were clogged after a workout, you’re not alone. Many people experience this sensation, and it can be quite uncomfortable. But why does it happen?


When you exercise, your ears can often become clogged and can create a muffled or distorted sound in your environment. This is due to a phenomenon known as “exercise-induced hearing loss.” It is caused by the increased blood flow that happens during exercise which decreases the amount of oxygen to your middle and inner ear. This is especially noticeable if you are engaged in high intensity exercise like running, swimming, or cycling. Additionally, if you are in a high-altitude environment with less air pressure that can also contribute to the problem.

There are some things you can do to reduce this problem. Avoiding very loud environments during your workout and making sure you keep hydrated will help keep your ears from feeling clogged. Excess mucus buildup from allergy season can also be an issue so make sure to stay on top of any medications needed for allergies or hay fever symptoms ahead of time and this should help alleviate some of the symptoms connected with exercise-induced hearing loss.

Lastly, if the effect persists, it may be a symptom of an ear infection so it is important to get checked out by a doctor if it persists beyond several days or increases in intensity with each workout session.


Generally, feeling a clogged sensation in your ears during exercise is caused by something related to the environment or the exercise itself. It may be linked to a combination of increased air pressure and air movement, changes in altitude, or a build-up of fluid in the ear. It can also be caused by other factors such as a buildup of wax or allergies. Let’s take a look at the common causes of a clogged sensation in your ears when you’re working out.

Changes in Pressure

It is not unusual to experience a feeling of clogged ears when engaging in physical activity due to changes in pressure within the inner ear. When exercising, such as running or weightlifting, blood flow increases and the body temperature can also rise. These physical changes can cause building up of pressure in the inner ear leading to clogged ear sensation. Furthermore, when swimming or diving, differences in pressure between outer and inner ear can result in difficulty with hearing and balance which could manifest as a feeling of clogged ears.

In some cases, those with underlying medical conditions, such as Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) may experience the sensation of clogged ears for long periods even after physical activity has ceased. Other medical conditions that can result in feeling of clogged ears include allergic rhinitis and nasal congestion due to cold or allergy symptoms, sinus infections or TMJ instability. Additionally, stress and fatigue may also lead to feelings of fullness or blockage which would cause a temporary decrease in hearing sensitivity that may feel like a clog.

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) can be a frequent cause of a feeling of pressure, fullness, or “clogged” ears while working out. The Eustachian tube is a small canal that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose and serves to equalize pressure between the outside and inside of the tympanic membrane (eardrum). When congestion or inflammation blocks proper functioning, ETD can result.

ETD can occur through sudden changes in environmental conditions from an increase in temperature or humidity. With exercise, physical exertion such as running or biking where breathing accelerates and heart rate increases may cause ETD as blood rapidly circulates throughout the body. Certain medications such as contraceptive pills, decongestants, antihistamines and some over-the-counter pain killers may also trigger ETD.

There are several symptoms associated with ETD including muffled hearing, ringing sensation in ears (tinnitus), pain in the ear, sensation of pressure behind the eyes and feeling of fullness inside head/ears. To reduce symptoms, seek medical advice on managing congestion with decongestants; use warm compresses behind neck before exercise; maintain hydration levels; avoid excessive change in temperature/humidity;c onsumption of anti-inflammatory supplements such as zinc pcitrate; discussion with doctor on reducing medication side effects if specific medication is causing this problem; tolerance as symptom severity will likely reduce over time on its own.


Swimming is one of the most popular exercises for those who wish to stay fit and active. However, it’s important to remember that going underwater creates changes in the pressure of your ears. This can be uncomfortable and may cause a feeling of ear clogging.

When submerged in water, the inner ear may feel a sudden increase in pressure as oxygen molecules enter the inner and middle ear system. Although your body quickly equalizes this pressure, a clogged sensation can occur as air moves through your Eustachian tube. This tube connects your middle ear to your throat and helps regulate pressure between these two areas.

In order to minimize feelings of blockage while swimming or diving, it’s important to work on clearing your sinuses before you submerge yourself in the water. Taking deep breaths in and out may help stir up mucus that has accumulated due to allergies or sinus infections, allowing proper drainage before you go into the pool or ocean. Additionally, learning proper Eustachian tube opening techniques such as swallowing or yawning should help alleviate any blockages in the ear canal after diving time is finished.


There are a few symptoms associated with clogged ears when working out. These include a feeling of fullness, muffled hearing, and popping or cracking sensations in the ears. If you experience any of these issues, it is important to recognize what it is and what may be causing it. Let’s discuss these common symptoms in more detail.

Ear Pain

Exertional ear pain, or the sensation of your ears feeling clogged, is a common symptom for those who work out frequently. This occurs as a result of the Eustachian tube becoming temporarily blocked. The Eustachian tube runs from each ear to the back of one’s throat and equalizes air pressure in the middle ear when it opens. When the tube is blocked, air cannot move freely through, resulting in a feeling of fullness or clogging in the ear.

Some common causes of exertional ear pain include:
-Allergies or irritation: Allergens, dust or dander can irritate and block mucosal lining inside the nose and Eustachian tubes. This can cause swelling and obstruction in the tubes.
-Changes in altitude: During an aggressive workout session that includes running up hills or lifting weights, people may experience changes in altitude that can cause temporary swelling and closure to their Eustachian tubes.
-Sinus infections: The sinuses are connected to the Eustachian tubes, so any infections or irritations that occur inside your nasal passages will also affect your ears.
-Air temperature changes: Going from warm to cold areas or vice versa can cause conditions like barotrauma (pressure injury) to develop inside your ears which may be accompanied by inner ear discomfort such as feeling clogged up.

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss that occurs when exercising is typically called Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). It occurs when your ears are exposed to sound pressure levels that are higher than they can handle. This can be damaging, leading to permanent hearing loss if the exposure happens frequently or over a long period of time.

Signs of NIHL include reduced hearing in specific frequencies, a feeling of fullness in the ears, and “noise fatigue” – a feeling of exhaustion after being exposed to a loud noise level for too long. Other common symptoms associated with NIHL include tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and difficulty comprehending speech. additional symptoms such as dizziness may also be present in those with severe degrees of hearing loss.

If you experience any of these symptoms after exercise, visit an audiologist for a comprehensive auditory assessment. The audiologist will test for both hearing thresholds as well as word recognition abilities – both key indicators to determine whether somebody has a noise-induced hearing loss or not. With early diagnosis and treatment, further hearing damage might be prevented.

Ringing in the Ears

One of the more common issues experienced when exercising is a feeling of clogged ears. The ears may feel blocked and full, as if something is stuck inside them. It is often accompanied by a ringing sound in one or both ears, known as tinnitus. This can be quite worrying and uncomfortable and interfere with the ability to hear clearly.

The medical term for clogged or muffled hearing due to exercise is Exercise-Induced Auditory Symptom (EIAS). It is thought that any physical activity that involves cardiovascular conditioning over a long period of time can result in EIAS. This includes running, swimming or any type of aerobic exercise involving repetitive movements on either land or in water.

Several theories exist regarding why this phenomenon happens, but there is no definite answer yet, since the exact cause remains uncertain. One possible explanation suggests that during physical activity, increased blood flow to and from the inner ear causes pressure changes in the ear canal, resulting in temporary reduced hearing sensitivity accompanied by ringing sounds or other auditory sensations (e.g., clicking). Another potential explanation links EIAS to increased fluid buildup around the middle ear during physical activity which obstructs sound transmission through the ear canal causing temporary reduced hearing sensitivity typically resolved within 24 hours of rest.

If you experience ringing in your ears when engaging in regular exercise sessions it could be worth talking to your doctor who can diagnose and recommend treatments for EIAS if necessary.


Working out can be beneficial in many ways, however, sometimes it can lead to plugged or clogged feeling ears. This can be unpleasant and even dangerous as it can affect hearing. Therefore, it is important to take steps to prevent this issue from occurring in the first place. Here are some tips to prevent ears from feeling clogged when working out.

Avoid Swimming

Swimming can often be the culprit for having “clogged” ears after a workout. The ears are highly susceptible to water contamination and can quickly become infected if the swimmer is unable to protect their ears while they’re in the pool. It’s important to wear proper protection such as ear plugs or ear caps that seal off the opening into the ear canal during swimming, which will prevent water from entering and potentially cause infection. Additionally, taking a break from swimming and avoiding diving too deep in a pool, as well as regularly cleaning your tubs and earplugs, can help reduce your risk of ear infections.

Take Breaks During Exercise

It is important to take breaks during exercise to prevent your ears from feeling clogged. Taking breaks can help cool down your body, regulate your breathing, and reduce the buildup of trapped air in the middle ear that can cause uncomfortable feelings of fullness in the ear. This can be especially helpful if you are engaging in physical activities that involve a heavy aerobic effort, like running or swimming. When taking a break, step away from the activity for a few moments to get some fresh air. Additionally, make sure to take deep breaths in and out several times throughout your exercise regimen to reduce strain on the middle ear and promote airflow through your nasal passageways.

Use Earplugs

Using earplugs while working out can be an effective way to prevent and address that uncomfortable feeling of a clogged ear. When inserted properly, earplugs reduce the ambient sound, acting as an insulation barrier against external noise. This can help to alleviate issues such as loud music or clanking weights with every rep. Additionally, when the environment is quieter, you may feel more motivated to complete a difficult workout due to the lack of distractions.

Before using earplugs, keep in mind that they should always be made from hypoallergenic material so they are safe for your skin and your ears. Furthermore, ensure that earplugs are correctly positioned in the ears and make sure any excess wax or fluids have been thoroughly flushed out before using them. As an added bonus, using earplugs also helps to protect your hearing from loud noise damage associated with gym equipment over time.


Ear clogged sensation when working is often due to Eustachian tube dysfunction, which is when the Eustachian tube does not open enough to allow air to flow through the middle ear. This can lead to a feeling of fullness and pressure in the ear, and can be quite uncomfortable. Luckily, there are some things you can do to treat it. Let’s take a look.

Nasal Decongestants

Nasal decongestants are medications used to open the passages in the nose, making it easier to breathe. This will help clear any blockages that may be caused by allergies or congestion. These medications can be taken orally, taken nasally as a spray or drop, or absorbed through the skin with an ointment. It’s important to verify whether this medication is right for you by talking to your doctor and carefully reading all instructions on packaging before use. Some of these treatments may also cause side effects such as jitteriness, headache, nausea and dizziness when taken orally; these side effects usually go away quickly when the treatment stops. Additionally, nasal decongestants are available over-the-counter (OTC) at most pharmacies and grocery stores in various doses and forms. It’s necessary to choose a suitable product based on personal needs and specific dosages recommended by medical professionals before beginning a course of treatment.


Antihistamines are an effective treatment for the uncomfortable, clogged sensation often felt in the ears when working out. The mechanism of action for this is simple: histamine is released in the ear canal, causing swelling and inflammation that can lead to clogging. Antihistamines provide relief by blocking the action of histamines, reducing swelling and consequently unclogging the ears. In addition, some antihistamines also have an anti-inflammatory effect which further helps reduce ear congestion.

It’s important to note that not all antihistamine medications are created equal, so it is worth consulting a doctor to determine which type of medication would best suit your needs. Common side effects include drowsiness and dry mouth, so it’s advisable to consult with a doctor before starting any new medication regimen.

In addition to taking prescribed medications, there are other steps individuals can take to minimize ear clogging during exercise which include avoiding allergens and allergens by doing pre-workout warm up exercises such as running in place or stretching; wearing protective gear such as swimmer’s plug ear protection; and avoiding strenuous activities in cold temperatures or with high levels of humidity. Ultimately, following both medical advise while taking preventive measures can help keep ears clear during workouts!

Steroid Nasal Sprays

Steroid nasal sprays, such as fluticasone, budesonide and mometasone, can be used to treat the inflammation and congestion that may be clogging your ears while you exercise. These types of sprays reduce swelling within the nasal passages and sinuses, which may be causing a blockage in your ears and muffling your hearing. Nasal steroid sprays are easy to use and do not require a prescription or injection from a healthcare provider. Generally speaking, these sprays will work best in individuals who don’t exercise regularly or have been recently diagnosed with allergies. In some cases, nasal steroids must be taken for several weeks before showing any improvement. If you’re struggling with clogged ears during physical activity, talk to your health provider about using a steroid nasal spray as part of your treatment plan.


In conclusion, it is likely that your ears are feeling clogged when working out due to a combination of fluid and pressure build-up in the inner ear. This is often caused by an increase in air pressure when you are exerting yourself during exercise, combined with sweat getting into the ear canal. To help prevent this from happening, it is recommended to wear headphones or an earplug to help equalize pressure, avoid swimming in dirty water, and blow your nose gently before exercise. Additionally, some medications may reduce fluid production in the ear and should be discussed with your doctor if this becomes a recurring issue.

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