Why Do My Ears Get Blocked When I Workout?

We all know the feeling of our ears getting blocked when we workout. It’s annoying, and can even be painful. But why does this happen?


An occasional blockage in your ears during exercise or physical activities can be a common and annoying issue. You may feel like your ears are clogged or popping when you dive into the pool or start your workout session. It is important to understand what causes this phenomenon and how to deal with it in order to improve your physical activity experience.

When we move our body to perform a physical activity, the muscles and joints around the ear area are also in motion. This can interfere with the movement of the eustachian tube, the canal which connects our inner ear to the back of our nose and throat, resulting in changes in pressure between these two areas. When this happens, it produces a blocking sensation (or “ear popping”) due to improper air exchange which is trying to reach equilibrium again between both sides of the eustachian tube. Other elements such as underlying medical conditions, diet, age and posture can also contribute towards this problem. Fortunately, there are various solutions that can prevent ear blockage while performing any type of activities such as swimming or working out at home or at gym.

Causes of Ear Blockage

Ear blockage is a common problem that many people experience after a strenuous workout. It is usually caused by a blockage in the Eustachian tube, a passage that connects the inner ear and the back of the nose. In many cases, the blockage can be caused by sweat, pressure changes, or breathing difficulties. Let’s get into the details of why this may happen.

Swelling of the Eustachian Tube

The Eustachian tube is a small tube that runs between your ear and the back of your nose, connecting the middle ear to the back of the throat. Its purpose is to ensure that a consistent air pressure is maintained between the environment and inner ear. Swelling of this tube can cause fluid build up, making it difficult for air to pass through and leading to a blockage in your ears. This can occur during physical exertion such as exercising or climbing to high altitudes because pressure changes rapidly in these scenarios. A blocked Eustachian tube can also be caused by infections like colds or allergies, which cause inflammation of this important lining and temporarily prevent adequate airflow. In addition, changes in barometric pressure due to weather conditions may contribute to an uncomfortable “stuffy” feeling in your ears if you are particularly sensitive.

Fluid Buildup

When fluid accumulates in the ear due to sweat or air pressure during exercise, this can cause a blockage. This is especially common if you have a tendency to produce more ear wax than normal as the potential build-up of wax can be quickly overwhelmed by an excessive amount of secreted sweat. In some cases, the fluids that have been produced create an obstruction which then blocks sound waves and other auditory signals from being properly processed. As a result, your ears will appear and feel blocked, though hearing may still be possible; albeit diminished in quality and volume.


Allergies can be an culprit in causing ear blockage. Sneezing, coughing, nasal congestion or nasal itching are all symptoms of allergies that can lead to blocked ears and hearing loss. Allergies can cause fluid to accumulate in the Eustachian tube, leading to dizziness and even temporary hearing loss. If you experience any of these symptoms while exercising it could be an indication of allergies. Allergic reactions can also manifest themselves as a type of rash known as swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear is inflammation of the ear caused by water-borne bacteria and is characterized by itchiness, swelling and redness around the outer area of the ear canal and a feeling that your ears are blocked. Avoiding allergens such as pollen, pet dander and dust mites is one way to reduce your risk of developing allergic reactions while working out.

Sinus Infection

Sinus infection is one of the most common causes of ear blockage when exercising. This can happen because a clogged or swollen sinus cavity can cause a blockage in the Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube is the small passageway that connects the middle ear to your throat and nose. When it is blocked, pressure changes in your middle ear from activities such as strenuous physical activity can cause discomfort, ringing, popping and temporary loss of hearing, as well as a feeling of blocked ears. To help alleviate any blockages due to sinus problems, it’s important to keep your sinuses clear by washing them out with an over-the-counter saline solution or by using a neti pot, inhaling steam and drinking plenty of fluids.


If you experience a blocked or plugged feeling in one or both ears while you exercise, then you may be experiencing a condition known as exercise-induced auditory dysfunction. This condition can be caused by a variety of things, but the symptoms can be quite uncomfortable. The most common symptom is a sensation of pressure or fullness in the ear canal that can last for a few minutes to several hours. Other symptoms may include a feeling of pain or discomfort, dizziness, and a sense of imbalance. It is important to note that these symptoms may get worse with physical activity.

Ear Pain

Working out can put a lot of strain on your body and you may find yourself facing a variety of pains, including pain in your ears. Ear pain associated with exercise is caused by the Eustachian tubes – small tubes that run from the back of your nasal cavity to the middle ear – becoming blocked.

Some of the most common symptoms of Eustachian tube blockage include an eardrum-pulling feeling, muffled hearing, fullness or pressure in the ear, dull pain or ache in one or both ears, and/or a clicking sensation when swallowing or yawning. It’s important to seek help from your healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms as they can lead to more serious medical issues if left untreated.

Frequent exercise can aggravate existing issues with blocked Eustachian tubes and make it difficult for pressure to regularly adjust between your inner and middle ears. This is why it’s so important to use good technique when working out and be conscious talking breaks if needed – especially with high intensity workouts that involve vigorous breathing. Additionally, drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day to stay hydrated helps prevent dryness in the nasopharyngeal area which can contribute to blockage. Taking decongestants may also provide some relief but should only be used under direction from a healthcare professional as they can cause further irritation if not properly administered.

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a common symptom associated with working out, particularly when performing exercises in noisy environments. This type of hearing loss, referred to as temporary threshold shift (TTS), occurs because of damages sustained to the inner ear due to exposure to loud sounds. These damages manifest as a temporary muffling or reduction in the frequency range that can be heard. TTS is normally a short-term issue and will gradually subside over time, however it can lead to permanent damage if not addressed quickly. In order to avoid further hearing loss it important for individuals to protect their ears and limit their exposure to noise levels that exceed 85 decibels, or about the level of loudness of city traffic or lawnmowers. An alternative option may be purchasing specialized ear protection such as noise-canceling headphones or soundproofed earplugs.

Ear Discharge

When you exercise, your body functions a little differently than usual. This can include increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure and perspiration production. These changes in your body can sometimes lead to problems with your ears, including ear discharge.

Ear discharge is typically caused by an obstruction of the Eustachian tube, which connects the back of the nose to the middle ear and helps to regulate air pressure behind the eardrum. Events such as vigorous activity or changes in air pressure can create enough suction in the tube to suck fluid out from tissue surrounding the Eustachian tube into the middle ear space. The fluid accumulation within your inner ear will cause a decrease in hearing acuity and an uncomfortable feeling of fullness or blockage throughout both ears. In some cases, you may also experience an itching sensation or discharge from one or both ears that may smell bad and be bloody or yellowish in color.

If left untreated, blocked ears due to ear discharge can become very uncomfortable and could increase chances of developing a bacterial infection inside the inner ear canal which could potentially cause permanent damage if not treated appropriately by a medical professional. If you experience any kind of symptoms related to blocked ears while working out, it is important that you consult with an audiologist who can diagnose what might be causing this issue and recommend any necessary treatment options.

Pressure in the Ears

For those individuals who experience their Eustachian tubes, the inner ear and throat passage, closing off during exercise, the sensation may include pressure in the ears. The Eustachian tube is located in the middle ear behind and above the throat. When it is blocked, air pressure builds up inside the ear causing it to become blocked. This blocking often occurs when you change positions (going from sitting to standing) and can cause dizziness when it occurs during exercise. In some cases, pressure changes that occur due to high altitude or a water dive can cause these tubes to close as well.
The sensation of fullness or pain that comes with blockage can occur before or during a workout session and last for several minutes or even up to an hour after completion of exercise. If left unaddressed, this type of Eustachian tube dysfunction can lead to hearing loss in one ear which may be temporary or permanent depending on its severity. Treatment options range from warm compresses, over-the-counter decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), antibiotics, or minimally invasive surgery depending on what a physician diagnoses once he assesses your problem during a consultation.


If you experience blocked ears when you workout, there are several solutions you can try. One possible treatment involves using a nasal decongestant spray or drops. If the blocked ears are due to a viral infection or allergies, an antihistamine can be helpful. You can also try providing additional moisture to the ear canal. In some cases, your doctor may recommend an earwax removal service to help unblock your ears. All these solutions can help provide relief from blocked ears.


For many people, physical exercise can lead to blocked ears due to a decrease in air pressure inside the Eustachian tube. To alleviate this issue, it is recommended that one takes decongestants before engaging in activities such as running or cycling. Decongestants are a type of medication used to treat the temporary congestion of the nose and ears caused by allergies and colds. Through their active ingredients, these medications work by reducing inflammation and narrowing the blood vessels around the nose and throat, allowing for easier breathing and clearer ear drainage. It is important to speak to your doctor before taking any kind of medication, as decongestants may not be suitable for everyone due to possible side-effects or drug interactions. Some common OTC decongestants include Pseudoephedrine (such as Sudafed®) nasal spray, nasal drops or tablets such as Vicks®, Olbas®, Mentholatum® or Otrivine®.


If your ears become blocked after doing exercise, the most common treatment is a course of antibiotics. These medications are used to treat any kind of infection that may be present in the middle ear, such as otitis media or swimmer’s ear. The specific type of antibiotic prescribed will depend on the type of bacteria causing the problem and how strong it is. Common antibiotics used for this purpose include amoxicillin-clavulanate, ceftin or Ciprofloxacin. You will likely take the medication for 7 to 14 days and may need to continue it for longer if your symptoms persist. Your doctor may also advise you to use a decongestant or steroid nasal spray to help speed up recovery and prevent further issues.

Allergy Medication

Allergy medication is a common treatment for ears getting blocked when working out. By reducing inflammation in the sinuses, it can help open up eustachian tubes and make it easier for fluid to drain from the middle ear. It may also reduce the amount of mucus created, making it easier to clear through active movements. Depending on your particular allergy, you may have to take medications like antihistamines or nasal sprays before exercising in order to decrease the chance of your ears becoming blocked. Check with your doctor for appropriate recommendations based on your personal condition.

Steroid Nasal Sprays

Steroid nasal sprays, such as Flonase or Nasonex, are a common form of treatment for blocked ears due to physical activity. These medications work by reducing inflammation caused by allergens and reducing mucus secretions in the nose. This can help reduce symptoms, such as congestion and blocked ears.

These steroid nasal sprays may only be temporary relief and should not be used if you plan to exercise consistently or intensely. You should talk to your doctor before you start using these medications as they can potentially cause side effects such as an increased risk of infections, changes in blood pressure and diabetes, among others. If you are looking for more permanent relief, your doctor may suggest a saline solution or decongestant spray that helps to thin mucus secretions before physical activity.


Surgery is an option if you experience persistent discomfort or conductive hearing loss as a result of blocked ears. During an operation, doctors may need to move bones in the middle ear that have become stiffened due to excessive exercise. Surgery can also be used to repair eardrums that have become damaged due to a buildup of fluid in the middle ear. It’s important to note that surgery should only be considered after other treatment options such as medication, hygiene advice, and lifestyle changes have been explored. Additionally, because the outcome of surgical procedures is uncertain, it should only be pursued once all other options have been thoroughly considered.


Working out is important for physical and mental health, but it can also lead to blocked ears. This is often caused by a buildup of fluid in the ear, leading to a temporary loss of hearing. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to prevent your ears from getting blocked when you work out. In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons why this happens and some tips on how to prevent it.

Avoid Allergens

While allergies may not seem like an issue when exercising, inhaling various airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, smoke or pet hair can cause your ears to become blocked. To reduce the risk of irritation, it is advisable to take the following precautions while exercising outdoors:

-Plan your workouts on days where air quality is particularly good. You can use the Air Quality Index (AQI) to check the levels of outdoor pollutants wherever you live.
-Keep away from potential allergens such as fumes from cars and factories and commonly found allergens like weed pollen, grasses and trees as much as possible.
-Wear a lightweight scarf or a mask over your nose and mouth while running outside. This will help filter out airborne particles that could cause congestion in your ear canals.
-Choose an exercise routine that will keep you in a contained environment like a swimming pool or indoors gymnasium where there are fewer chances of inhaling harmful substances from outside.

Stay Hydrated

When exercising, make sure to drink plenty of fluids. Being dehydrated can lead to a buildup of wax in the ear canal, resulting in blocked ears. Make sure that you stay hydrated before, during and after your workout by drinking plenty of water and other fluids (such as sports drinks). As a general rule, you should drink 8 ounces (236ml) of fluid every 15-20 minutes when exercising. Additionally, keep an eye out for any early signs of thirst such as feeling thirsty, dry mouth or feeling weak or dizzy. By staying properly hydrated, you can ensure that your ears do not become blocked while working out.

Use a Saline Nasal Spray

Using a saline nasal spray before exercising can help to prevent eustachian tube blockage as it helps to keep your nasal passages lubricated. Saline sprays provide moisture to the sensitive mucous membranes in the nose and upper throat, which improves air circulation in the Eustacian tubes, thus avoiding painful blockages. It’s easy to use too – just get a bottle at your local pharmacy and spray one or two squirts into each nostril before working out. Make sure that you use the saline spray between each workout as well in order to prevent buildup of bacteria and debris.

Avoid High Altitudes

When exercising, the change in air pressure can cause the Eustachian tubes in your ears to become blocked. This often happens when you are performing physical activity at high altitudes or with a sudden plunge underwater. If you’re looking to avoid ear blockages during physical activity, it is best to stay away from high-altitude activities and opt for low-altitude exercises instead. Make sure you give your ears adequate rest if you do experience symptoms of blocked ears when working out at high altitudes. Additionally, warm cloths on either side of the ear may help reduce discomfort as well as cold compresses towards the bridge of your nose and upper cheeks.


In conclusion, it can be difficult to say exactly why this happens to you in particular, but many people experience blocked ears after or during physical activity or exercise. It is possible that the pressure of your body as you exercise changes the pressure around your eardrums and restricts their ability to move freely. The increased temperature caused by your warm-up can also cause blood vessels in the middle ear to swell and lead to ear blockage. Other possible causes may include dehydration, air pressure changes when changing altitude and physical trauma such as direct impact through activities like contact sports. If you are experiencing any severe symptoms like hearing loss, ringing in the ears or dizziness, it is important to consult with a qualified medical professional.

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