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Heard a pop sound during weight lifting. Noticed mild discomfort in the pop area. Should I be worried?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 2560 Questions
Hi, my name is XXXXXXX and I'm 20 years old.

Two days ago I was weight lifting and heard a "pop" around the left-center of my head. I stopped my work out immediately and sat down, but aside from the initial pop, I felt no pain nor did I have any headaches throughout the remainder of the day. For the past two days, the only things I have noticed is that periodically, the place in my head where the pop took place would throb once or a few times with very mild discomfort and then go away. It isn't a pounding type of throb whatsoever, but I'm just weary about it. It definitely had to do with me holding my breath as I was pulling up the weight, which is something I will definitely avoid doing from now on.

Is this something I should be worried about?
Posted Fri, 18 Oct 2013 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Prasad 9 hours later
Brief Answer:
Observe for a week...

Detailed Answer:

Apologies for the late response...

I went through your post with diligence and I understand you developed new symptoms after lifting weight while holding breathe. This kind of action where you forcefully hold breathe is referred to as valsalva manoeuvre. Pressure changes created during such activities opens up eustachian tube - a tube that connect throat with your nose.

At times this tube opens up with a pop especially when pressure difference is huge. It is like a large volume of air escaping through a narrow tube resulting in popping.

Most people hear this popping in the ear. But since this tube is closely related to temporal region of brain some people describe it as within the skull. I believe this is what happened to you couple of days ago while exercising.

You may also have injured parts of eustachian tube or the middle ear during the event and you feel the throb now every time the tube functions. But do not be worried, this is only going to be temporary phenomena and you will be alright very soon.

I suggest you to wait and observe for a few days, say up to a week before you plan to see your ENT surgeon. Persistent pain, problems with hearing, ear pain and ear discharge if any should be reported to your doctor at the earliest.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you need clarifications.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Heard a pop sound during weight lifting. Noticed mild discomfort in the pop area. Should I be worried? 15 hours later
Hi Doctor,

I do not think it is my eustachian tube. I have done the valsalva manoeuvre in the past and I know what it feels like. The pop that I felt was definitely from the roof of my head and it felt like it was inside. I have not had any ear pain or problems with hearing at all.

I still have not had any headaches and I do not feel any stiffness in my neck, but do you think it is possible that a blood vessel might have popped in my head?
Answered by Dr. Prasad 6 hours later
Brief Answer:
No, it's not vessel popping...

Detailed Answer:

No, it's not blood vessel popping. Bleeding in the brain would cause headache, if not severe at least noticeable one.

If this isn't Eustachian tube popping, then the next probable explanation is CSF movement through narrow channel.

Pressure within the CSF channel is increased (raised intracerebral pressure) when you forcefullyhold your breathe. Perhaps the popping was due to movement of CSF within narrow channel. I don't feel I need to be concerned here. But I would watch for severe headache and vomiting. You can report to your doctor if you happen to notice headache and vomiting.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you need clarification.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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