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Why do my ears hurt when I run?

For a lot of people, cardio is their go-to exercise.

It’s a great way to get the heart pumping, the adrenaline flowing, and even more importantly, going on a run is a great way to reduce stress.

Runners have even been known to experience something known as a “runner’s high” when the endorphins kick in after a good few miles put underneath their sneakers while listening to their favorite bands or podcasts. But some weird things can happen to some people while on a jog around the track.

Have you ever experienced a strange, painful sensation in your ears when you’re getting your steps in for the day?

Have you ever been annoyingly curious as to why your ears always seem to hurt every single time you try going for a run?

Well, that’s exactly what this article is going to be discussing.

So, before you go put on your favorite running shoes or athletic gear, let’s take a minute to figure out why your ears hurt when your running and if there is anything you can do to ease that pain or help it go away altogether.

Reasons Why Your Ears Might Be Hurting During or After Going on a Run

There are actually quite a few reasons as to why you always find your ears hurt either during your intense Spartan and Ragnar races or just your early morning-late night refreshing jog.

  • Cold temperatures. Now this one is probably one of the more obvious answers, but should still be addressed. When outside temperatures drop while you’re racing down the usual trails, the temperature change can cause your ears to experience that well-known numbing and stinging feeling due to the cold air that is hitting the thin skin and cartilage of your ears which causes that pain.
  • All about that bass. It’s probably safe to say that the majority of runners prefer to have some tunes pumping while they are getting their cardio workout in for the day. Well, those favorite headphones you wear out on every run, just might be the cause of your ear pain. Headphones are built to an average ear fit, so chances are those headphones won’t be a one-hundred percent match up to your unique ears. So, bad fitting headphones that are jostling up and down smashing into the cartilage of your ears for however long you’re on a run for…yeah, there’s going to be some painful consequences. Also, playing that music too loud for a prolonged period can also cause ear damage, so there’s that.

These two reasons are usually the more well-known culprits for ear pain while running, but here are a couple more hidden culprits that might just be your ear-pain suspect you should pay more attention to?

#1 Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

This is what occurs when the acid from your stomach actually flows back into your esophagus.

Though the most common symptom of this disease is heartburn. However, there are other less common symptoms of GERD, one of which is ear pain.

So, when you are out on a run, and you are starting to feel that pesky ear pain, it could actually be that stomach acid flowing back and forth into your esophagus due to the intense bodily movements of your run, and your body is trying to tell you something that you might need to go see your local doctor or physician about.

#2 Blood flow constriction

This kind of goes hand in hand with the whole cold temperature thing.

There are all kinds of external factors that could be the culprit of ear pain while you are on your daily run.

Do you live in a high-altitude region or a colder climate? Is it a seasonal weather change from warm temperatures to cold temperatures?

When any of these pressure changes occur to the environment around us, it can cause the blood vessels and veins within your body and ears to constrict.

When this constriction of blood flow occurs, it is harder for blood to get to those areas of the body, such as your ears.

This is intensified especially when you are in a consistent and intense movement such as running because now you are exposing your ears to these pressure and climate changes while your body is attempting to pump blood at a harder rate which ends in earaches and pains.

READ MORE: Why do I get nauseous at night?

Solutions For Running Ear Pain

If any of these possible suspects sound like they could be the cause for that annoying earache you get during or after every time you go on a run, here are some things you can do to hopefully solve that issue once and for all.

  • Reevaluate your current headphones as your ears might be screaming at you to either lower the volume a few notches because you are damaging and rupturing your eardrums. Or, your current headphones just suck, and it’s time for you to find better-fitted headphones that either cover your ears completely if you prefer the ear-muff design, or you might even want to do some research on the best in-ear headphones, some companies even make custom headphones molded to fit your ears specifically.
  • Schedule an appointment with your local doctor or physician. It very well could be that those painful earaches you get after running is your body attempting to tell you that you have GERD and that when you go running, your stomach acid is actually splashing back into your esophagus, which can be a serious disease.
  • If you live in a colder climate or it’s that cold season of the year where you live, it’s probably a great time to invest in a good pair of earmuffs and a comfortable beanie to wear while out on runs to protect your ears from the cold.
  • If you live in a higher climate area and your ears start to hurt while on a run due to the pressure change, try this ear trick to see if it helps: take a breath in and then slowly blow the breath out while holding your nostrils and mouth closed. This is should help regulate the pressure in your ears.

Image credit – @Getty

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