Fluid build up in one ear when I have elevated heart rate

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Any time I’m working out doing any type of cardio when I a little hot and heart rate goes up my ear seems to have fluid on it. Everything is muffled and it’s uncomfortable to even talk. It doesn’t seem to be the heat alone because I’m in the heat at work everyday. Years back I did have a heat stroke I believe and seem to be sensitive to heat when working kind of hard now but I mostly notice it when exercising. I don’t go to the doctor regularly because I have no insurance so I’m just trying to find out what I can before I do go to the doctor. Any help will be appreciated.

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  • Posted

    Hello Matt

    Could you be a bit more specific please.  When you say everything is muffled, do you mean only your own voice or also what you are hearing from outside?  Do you hear yourself breathing loudly?  And does this affect only one ear or both?  How long does it take to return to normal?   I have an idea of what may be going on but need answers to these questions before I make any suggestion.

    Thanks, Maureen

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    • Posted

      It really seems to just be my own voice and breathing. It usually returns to normal within an hour after activity has stopped. There are times where noises around me are muffled as well but that part comes and goes. My voice and breathing definitely stand out as the worst of it though. 
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  • Posted

    Hello again Matt,

    I suggest that what you have is an intermittent Patulous (open) Eustachian tube.  I have this problem in my left ear but I have it all the time except when I bend over or when I lie down.  Your Eustachian tube opens when you are breathing heavily (i.e. when you are exercising) and you hear your voice and your breathing not only through your ear but also through your Eustachian tube (the opening of this is somewhere at the back of your throat).  Thus your breathing sounds really loud while your voice sounds muffled because the two sources of hearing are not in synch.  You can also have a feeling of pressure in the ear because of the air coming up constantly.  It has nothing to do with your heart or heat or fluid in the ear. 

    I have had the problem for three years.  Diagnosis, however, took two years, even though I knew through Internet research what the problem was.  ENTs are supposed to be able to diagnose this and there is a specific test that an audiologist can do but it will only be diagnosed in your case if you see the ENT and/or do the audiologist's specific test, after you have been exercising, so that the symptoms are present. 

    The good news is that, even though it is really uncomfortable, it will not do any damage to your ear.  It will not damage the ear drum or cause infections.  Now for the bad news - there is not much that can be done.  One cause seems to be weight loss and I have seen where individuals have put on weight and the problem has been overcome.  In this case I think the reasoning is that the fat around the Eustachian tube has been lost.  I have a suspicion that the cause in my case, and perhaps yours, is drying out of the mucus membranes lining the Eustachian tube. The ENT doctor who suggested I put on weight (it did not work for me) told me that it is not such a rare problem as one might think, that five of his ENT colleagues have it.  Any surgeries are likely to make things worse and both of the good ENTs that I saw, eminent men who did not question my diagnosis, said they could do nothing.  If you are in the USA you are more likely to find surgeons who will try something but be careful - calamities have resulted from such efforts in the past.  Anyway, do a bit of research into Patulous Eustachian tube and see what you think.  Feel free to ask me anything further at any time.

    Best wishes, Maureen

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