I want to talk about something today that I’ve never talked about. It’s something really weird that happens to me on occasion while I’m exercising. I don’t know why it happens and I HATE when it does happen.
Here’s the deal…once in a while when I’m doing cardio, something strange happens to my ears. All the sudden my ears seem to pop and for the next 10-20 or so minutes, I can hear myself breathing through my ears and my voice is magnified in my ears. When I take a breath, it seriously feels like I’m breathing out of my ears – kinda sounds like Darth Vader breathing to me. (I know it sounds weird but there’s no other way to describe it) When I talk, it sounds like I’m speaking into a megaphone and it echos. It’s so absolutely annoying. I never know how to fix it and it usually ruins my cardio session.
It doesn’t happen every cardio session. It just happens randomly.
I’ve always worried whether or not it’s dangerous, what I can do to stop it and if I should stop cardio whenever it happens. A few friends of mine have said this happens to them as well, so I know I’m not alone in this. Since I’ve never seen much information about this specific topic, I figured I’d dig deep into researching and find out some answers for all of us!
The culprit of the issue is the Patulous Eustachian tube in the ear.
What is the Patulous Eustachian Tube?
Patulous Eustachian tube, also known as patent Eustachian tube, is the name of a physical disorder where the Eustachian tube, which is normally closed, instead stays intermittently open. When this occurs, the patient experiences autophony, the hearing of self-generated sounds. These sounds, such as one’s own breathing, voice, and heartbeat, vibrate directly onto the ear drum and can create a “bucket on the head” effect. (Source) At a resting heart rate, usually this tube only opens when swallowing.
Who does this happen to?
This condition is more common in females than in males and is usually present in adolescents and adults; it is rarely found in young children. (Source)
Why does this happen? What causes this change?
There are a few things I’ve found that are believed to cause this change in the ear.
- Weight Loss
Well…I can personally ignore #3 because I know I haven’t been pregnant when this happened, but it is one of the possible causes.
When I first read that weight loss was a cause of this, it started to make more sense!! I realized that this happens to me more often when I’m at a lower weight. When I was prepping for my bikini competition, it happened ALL the time. I also happened to be at a very low weight and body fat percentage. The reason weight matters is because the Eustachian Tube has fatty tissues around it to keep it closed. When you lose body fat and your heart rate is elevated, it can cause tissue pressure leading it to open and result in the annoying symptoms I talked about above.
Dehydration is also a possible cause for this happening so make sure you’re property hydrated at all times. I highly suggest trying to drink a gallon of water a day. (There are endless benefits of drinking a lot of water, so you should be doing this anyway!)
How do I treat it when it happens next time?
Some people find relief by:
- Laying Down
- Putting your head between the knees
- Tilt head to one side
- Stay hydrated
- Lower heart rate
What NOT to do:
- Do not aggressively suck in/blow out when holding your nose to correct the pressure in the tube. This can create worse problems and affect the functioning of the tube. It is much better to lean forward and allow the tubes to close. (Source)
Are these issues with my Patulous Eustachian Tube dangerous?
Most of the time, patients have a very mild form of this…like me. Since my issues only appear to happen when working out at a lower weight, it is not something I should be worried about. If I were to have this issue all day, every day, this is an obvious issue. Collegen injections can be performed to beef up your tubes (yeah that sounded ridiculous but I’m rolling with it – haha) and surgery can be performed on the Eustachian tube to help this issue however, surgery can be a very risky procedure.
I’m really glad I took the time to research this odd issue for my own knowledge and hopefully this will help someone else who has always wondered why this happens to them.
Has this ever happened to you? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!