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Old 08-15-2007, 10:16 AM   #1
Ken Mindoro
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Have any of you noticed that your ears may feel "plugged" while doing your WOD? I noticed this sensation yesterday while doing the L-pullup/DU/back ext/situp WOD. I've been doing some reading on this issue and it looks like some people may experience a temporary threshold shift (TTS, which is a temporary form of mild hearing loss) from exercise. I was just wondering if anyone else has noticed a similar occurrence.
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Old 08-15-2007, 06:19 PM   #2
Charles Bennington
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Weird that you mention this. I had the same thing happen during the same WOD. It's never happened before, very strange feeling. I thought it was water in my ears. :P
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Old 08-15-2007, 09:22 PM   #3
Matt DeMinico
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I get it frequently, it's strange... kinda like when you have to "pop" your ears, you know? but you can't...
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Old 08-15-2007, 10:49 PM   #4
George Mounce
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I spent about an hour reading other forums of people having the same problem. The only doctor suggestion in a forum I saw was to consciously breathe through the mouth during exercise. Nose breathing may cause blocking of the Eustachian tube trapping air behind the ear drum giving the feeling of plugged ears. Take that with a grain of salt.

Other then that, no clue.

Hopefully it isn't a Eustachian tube disorder (w/f safe): http://www.earfdn.org/A-New-Medication-to-Control-Patulous-Eustachian-Tube-Disor ders-Article.htm

I always thought temporary threshold shift was due to exposure to high levels of noise, aka go to a rock concert and a few days later are able to hear again.
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Old 08-16-2007, 11:54 AM   #5
Bryan Gollhofer
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Hopefully a Doc peeks in on this topic to let us know that we aren't going to suddenly explode or something! I get the same thing on hard metcon days. I did Nancy yesterday and got it again. It seems the higher the intensity is the more frequently it occurs. It only lasts for about five minutes, but it is a weird feeling.

Any Docs out there???
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Old 08-16-2007, 12:03 PM   #6
George Mounce
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I tested my hypothesis today after Murph. I took 10 quick, deep breathes through my nose while cooling down and ears plugged up. I then slowly exhaled out of my nose and mouth, and they cleared. I resumed being a mouth breather and they didn't plug up again.

I'm going with my hypothesis, breathe through your mouth!
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Old 08-16-2007, 04:26 PM   #7
Ken Mindoro
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Bryan, I am a Doc :-)

I did some online research and did find a few journal articles that showed that exercise causes a form of temporary hearing loss. I'm just trying to see how common it occurs among the people here.

From what I have read, exercise blunts the stapedius reflex (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_reflex), but the temorary threshold shift is driven by exposure to noise, not by the exercise you are doing. Exercise just makes this temporary condition more likely.


Temporary threshold shift induced by physical exercise.Miani C, Bertino G, Francescato MP, di Prampero PE, Staffieri A.
ENT Clinic, University of Udine, Italy.

Several studies have demonstrated how physical exercise can increase noise-induced temporary threshold shifts (TTS), but until now no evidence of TTS exclusively attributable to physical activity has yet been reported. In this study the hearing pure-tone thresholds of 10 subjects were evaluated at rest and at three designated times following the end of a work load corresponding to 50% and 80% of the maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max). The results obtained demonstrate a definite effect of physical exercise on the hearing threshold at 6000 and 8000 Hz and that the higher the frequency, the greater the chance of detecting a TTS. Evaluation of the variations in some physiologic parameters (VO2 max, blood lactate and blood pressure) could not statistically correlate the same with TTS. The physiopathologic mechanisms responsible for TTS are still unknown and require further studies which should make allowances for the deferred effects of metabolic variations on the cochlear function.

Reduced active protection to the cochlea during physical exercise.Colletti V, Fiorino FG, Verlato G, Montresor G.
ENT Department, University of Verona, Italy.

The present investigation was designed to evaluate whether dynamic physical exercise is able to modify stapedius reflex (SR) activity and, as a consequence, to influence the amount of temporary threshold shift (TTS). Experimental subjects were 10 normal-hearing male volunteers, aged 27-34 years (mean 30.8). SR parameters in the time-domain were assessed before, during and after submaximal exercise test, performed for 10 min on an ergometer cycle at 50% of maximum work capacity. The same parameters were also investigated in the absence of exercise, at time-matched intervals. In addition, the combined effect of noise and exercise was studied. The outcome of the investigation indicates that dynamic physical exercise depresses the SR and potentiates noise-induced TTS. The mechanisms underlying the present findings are discussed.

Effects of low-intensity exercise and noise exposure on temporary threshold shift.Hutchinson KM, Alessio HM, Spadafore M, Adair RC.
Department of Communication, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

It is not known if an individual who is susceptible to temporary threshold shift (TTS) may also suffer permanent hearing loss. Risk for hearing loss is caused by the physical properties (frequency, intensity, and duration) of noise and other possible factors including physical exercise. Seventeen subjects cycled at 40% of maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) with and without noise administered via personal headphones. Exercising at 40% of VO2 max is considered to be low intensity. Hearing tests before and after these two exercise conditions and a noise-only condition indicated that TTS only occurred when noise was present, that is, exercise alone did not result in TTS. Therefore TTS and subsequent hearing loss (which only persisted for 24-48 h) was found to be driven by noise exposure, not low-intensity exercise.
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Old 08-16-2007, 05:42 PM   #8
Matt DeMinico
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THAT was definitely a doctor answer. But very well summed up for the "less medically technical" (another word for "we don't know jack about medicine") among us. Thanks Ken.
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Old 08-17-2007, 08:18 PM   #9
Charles Bennington
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I'm just glad that I'm not alone.
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Old 08-20-2007, 09:38 AM   #10
Bryan Gollhofer
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Re: Ears feeling plugged during WOD

Thanks for the info and research Ken. And Charles no, you are not alone. I am thinking the first ever chapter of TTS Anonymous should be formed.

My name is Bryan, and I suffer from TTS.
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