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Published on: 22-Aug-2023

Although ear infections are often a minor or temporary health event, they can disrupt your daily routine and pose unique challenges when it comes to exercising. Because of this, whether you’re a die-hard gym-goer or just someone venturing into the fitness world, it’s critical to understand how to stay safe when working out with an ear infection. This includes spotting symptoms early on, understanding the impact on balance and hearing, and most importantly, knowing when to take a break.  

In this guide, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about managing ear infections while maintaining an active lifestyle. Let’s get moving!

Ear Infections: Let’s Cover the Basics

Ear infections are a common ailment characterized by inflammation and buildup of fluid in the middle ear. They are usually caused by bacteria or viruses that enter the ear, typically after catching a cold or suffering from allergies. Generally, an ear infection will last around one to two weeks and may clear up on its own, although sometimes medical treatment such as antibiotics is necessary.   

If you are prone to ear infections, learning how to prevent them is important to avoid interference with your active lifestyle. Some prevention strategies you may incorporate include maintaining proper hand hygiene and avoiding tobacco smoke and allergens that can lead to infections. 

Safety Tips for Working Out with an Ear Infection 

Even when using all prevention strategies, it is not always possible to avoid an ear infection. In this case, knowing how to stay safe when exercising and, at the same time, speed up your recovery is crucial.

Let’s look at a few key safety tips below. 

Consult Your Physician Before Exercising

Before starting any form of exercise with an ear infection, it is crucial to consult your physician. They can provide critical insight into the potential risks and benefits unique to your situation. Please remember: proceeding without medical advice could potentially aggravate your condition or lead to dangerous complications.

Work With a Personal Trainer

When you’re dealing with an ear infection but still want to exercise, it is recommended to rely on the expertise of a PT. Personal trainers can keep their clients safe from injury while they exercise, despite health setbacks like ear infections. They can tailor exercises for you that won’t exacerbate your symptoms, providing the optimum balance between maintaining fitness and protecting your health.

Learn More About Ear Infections

To stay safe while exercising with an ear infection, start by finding hearing health information from reliable sources such as Hearing Research. Knowing more about your condition, as well as its causes and prevention strategies, can help you tailor exercises that are not only effective but also safe for your ears. Even more importantly, being well-informed translates into a more mindful and careful approach towards physical health, especially when dealing with ear infections.

Avoid Underwater Sports 

If you’re dealing with an ear infection, be sure to steer clear of water sports. Activities like swimming or diving might sound refreshing, but they could make your ear situation get tricky. That’s because the pressure underwater, as well as exposure to bacteria in the water, could add excessive pressure to your eardrums and lead to complications. 

Limit High-Impact Activities

When managing an ear infection, it’s advisable to limit high-impact activities. Exercises like running or jumping can aggravate your symptoms and delay recovery. Instead, opt for low-intensity workouts such as walking or Yoga until you feel better.

Stay Hydrated

Staying properly hydrated is crucial, especially when you’re recovering from an ear infection. Dehydration can exacerbate the symptoms of an ear infection, thus slowing down the recovery process. Hence, make sure you’re consistently drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day, focusing primarily on water and avoiding alcohol or caffeine, which can lead to dehydration.

Avoid Q-Tips and Headphones

Although you may want to keep your ears clean when you have an infection, you should avoid using Q-tips. These can actually spread harmful bacteria and wax further into your ear, exacerbating the problem. In severe cases, they can cause the rupture of the eardrum, which can lead to severe complications. Similarly, refrain from wearing headphones or earbuds until your infection has cleared up, as they can increase pressure and cause further irritation.

Monitor Body Temperature 

Keep a close check on your body heat if you’re working out with an ear infection. A high, unrelenting fever could be a sign your infection is getting worse.  

Call your doctor for an ear infection if you notice any of the following:

  • Swelling around your ear.
  • Fluid or pus leaking from your ear.
  • Muffled hearing or difficulty hearing properly.
  • Constant dizziness.
  • Severe ear pain.

Listen To Your Body 

Ultimately, you should always listen to your body when exercising. If you feel any discomfort during exercising with an ear infection, like dizziness or aggravated pain, please pause your workout and have a rest. A tuned-in approach to your health is your best insurance against exacerbating your condition.