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Exercise and tinnitus

exercise and tinnitus
Do you suffer from tinnitus, especially after exercise? This article will help you to continue to workout by giving you an understanding about the symptoms, causes and treatment of tinnitus. As well as advice on exercise and tinnitus.

What is tinnitus and its symptoms?

Tinnitus is a ringing in the ear and affects a high number of people, with approximately 20-30% of us suffering from it.

There is no external noise, but the internal sound can be a ringing, buzzing, humming, whooshing or hissing sound with varying degrees of pitch and loudness.

The sound can come and go, last just a few seconds or for some people many hours or longer. Most of the time it will just be a temporary annoyance for the majority of people, but for a few it can be a real problem and quite debilitating with constant noise.

Most of the time tinnitus isn’t linked to a serious medical condition. However if your tinnitus is regular, constant, loud, troublesome or it causes a loss in hearing, seek medical advice. Please also see my post on Hearing loss from exercising.

What causes Tinnitus?

Although this post is titled ‘exercise and tinnitus’, I’m going to list a few other reasons that can lead to tinnitus. Most causes of tinnitus are unknown and not often obvious, but here is a list of some potential causes:

  • Your age, as you get older your chances of suffering from tinnitus increases (mostly associated with a loss in hearing).
  • Ear cell damage
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Some types of medication
  • Infections/colds etc
  • Earwax
  • Anxiety / stress / depression
  • Leading an unhealthy lifestyle
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardio health / circulatory system disorders
  • Loud noises, especially if you are exposed to it on a regular basis

Much of the reasons for us to suffer from tinnitus is because the brain receives signals via our nerves from the ear. The brain has to filter the sounds it receives from background noise to more important noises. When we suffer from bad health or a physical stress it can affect the efficiency of our hearing and this can cause the brain to not be able to filter the sounds letting us hear the now unfiltered buzzing and ringing.

Treatments to help with tinnitus

Although treating tinnitus can be difficult and isn’t easy to diagnose, there are a number of things you can do to help improve or eliminate it. The obvious things to do first is to stop/reduce the causes listed above where possible. Then if necessary try the following:

  • Relaxation (Yoga, tai chi, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, visualisation exercises) – these help reduce anxiety and stress
  • Gentle music and sound/music therapy – to help reduce/cope with tinnitus
  • Wear ear protection when exposed to loud noises – to help protect your hearing from damage
  • Exercise – to improve overall health and well being
  • Diet/nutrition – follow a good plan to improve health and reduce/eliminate unhealthy foods

So can some types of exercise cause tinnitus or make it worse?

The answer for many, is there are exercises that can indeed cause or worsen your tinnitus. These exercises include high impact type activities that create a jerking movement to the head. These types of exercises can lead to damage of the inner ear, eventually leading to tinnitus. For some people pushing too hard can also increase their blood pressure too much and for others the extra blood flow can even cause tinnitus to rear its ugly head. Conversely some people can get tinnitus from the lack of blood flow to the ears and brain that can occur when your blood is directed to another part of the body such as when working your legs intensely.

If this happens to you then you need to do all of the above ‘Treatments to help with tinnitus’. If that doesn’t do it, then the only other solution short of stopping exercise is to lower the intensity of your workout and place less stress on your body, until you feel your fitness and health is getting better.

To avoid pressure build up that can affect your hearing and even lead to hearing loss make sure you breath properly especially when lifting heavy weights. Straining can lead to pressure on the brain (intracranial pressure) and also pressure build up on the ears.

Also make sure you fully warm-up and cold down. Plan your workouts and keep a journal to note what your workout entailed and how you felt during and after it.


By taking the right measures and doing the right exercises and eating correctly you can improve your overall health with better blood circulation, reduced stress and help getting quality sleep. All of which will help fight against tinnitus.