It’s an amazing and wonderful experience, having a baby. But in terms of how it can make you feel, it can be pretty uncomfortable, at least in some cases. There’s the morning sickness, the difference in your body, the health hazards, and all sorts of weird side effects. None of this takes away from the joy of being a parent… but it’s a whole undertaking to get there.
And now we can add hearing loss to that list of disadvantages.
Most people don’t immediately connect hearing loss with pregnancy. So it might be a surprise to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is rather common. It’s not a bad plan to watch out for these symptoms. Pregnancy-associated hearing loss isn’t something you should be worried about in most cases. In other cases, the cause is a serious concern and might call for immediate medical attention. Is hearing loss during pregnancy irreversible? Well, it could be, depending on how fast you treat it and what the underlying cause is.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy-induced hearing loss?
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t make an appearance on a lot of sitcoms or in very many romantic comedies. Things like morning sickness are a lot more cinematic. This means that, generally speaking, individuals may be less likely to anticipate pregnancy-related hearing loss. So knowing what to watch out for can be helpful.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss is about more than simply cranking the volume up on your devices, after all. Here are some of the most common:
- Tinnitus: Pregnancy-related hearing loss is frequently linked to tinnitus, or a ringing or buzzing in the ears. The rhythm and sound of your tinnitus symptoms can, in some cases, sound like your own heartbeat which is known as “pulsatile tinnitus”. You should speak with your doctor about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
- Headaches and migraines: You might also experience an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you get on a regular basis.
- Everything seems quieter: Certainly, this is probably the most evident indication of hearing loss. But a condition called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” happens suddenly and can be more apparent. You should convey any abrupt hearing loss during pregnancy to your provider as soon as possible. In order to prevent sudden hearing loss from becoming irreversible, you might require emergency treatment.
- A feeling of fullness in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears frequently accompanies pregnancy-related hearing loss.
- Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be affected by pregnancy-related hearing loss, or sometimes a pre-existing problem with the inner ear can be the source of that hearing loss. Whenever your inner ear isn’t working correctly, you might experience issues with balance and dizziness with your hearing loss. And that also goes for pregnancy-related hearing loss.
These aren’t universal symptoms. You will probably experience some symptoms and not others depending on the underlying cause of your pregnancy-induced hearing loss. In any case, if you experience hearing loss or any of the related symptoms while you are pregnant, it’s usually a good plan to talk to your provider. That’s because these symptoms can in some cases be an indication of some rare but larger issues.
What causes pregnancy-related hearing loss?
Is hearing impacted by pregnancy? Well, possibly, sometimes. But other parts of your body are affected by pregnancy and those parts of your body can then impact your hearing.
So how can pregnancy-induced hearing loss possibly be caused? Well, the causes vary… but some of the most prevalent include:
- An iron deficiency: Your health, and the health of your baby, can both be impacted in a wide variety of ways by an iron deficiency. One of those impacts can sometimes be hearing loss in the woman who is pregnant.
- Hormone and circulatory changes: When you become pregnant, your body is doing an extreme amount of work. As a result, all sorts of changes are afoot, both in terms of your hormones and your circulatory system.
- Some of the typical things: If you get an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any kind of blockage in your ear (like earwax), this can cause hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
- Bone growth: The ability for sound to pass through your ears can be obstructed by a condition called otosclerosis which causes the tiny bones in your ear to grow too fast. Pregnancy induces hormonal changes and other body changes that can cause this kind of bone growth. It should be mentioned that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and exactly how much it impacts hearing, is ongoing.
- High blood pressure: When you are pregnant, high blood pressure can trigger tinnitus and hearing loss. And this is, in part, why it’s extremely important to tell your provider about your hearing loss. Serious conditions, including preeclampsia, can trigger high blood pressure. Throughout pregnancy, these issues should be monitored.
Sometimes, the cause of your hearing loss may be hard to determine. The essential thing will be to keep track of your symptoms and be in regular communication with your provider.
How is this type of hearing loss managed?
The underlying cause of this kind of hearing loss will largely determine the course of treatment. The question that many people have is: will my hearing return to normal? Once your pregnancy is over, your hearing should go back to normal, or maybe even sooner.
However, this isn’t always the situation, so it’s essential to be proactive when you observe symptoms. You might require extra treatment if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, for instance. The outcome will also depend on how fast you get treatment in the case of abrupt sensorineural hearing loss.
That’s why it’s so important to be sure you report these symptoms to your doctor. You might then go through a complete hearing screening or assessment to help get to the bottom of your symptoms (or at least rule out any of the more severe possible impacts).
Protect your hearing
Safeguarding your hearing is something you should watch out for especially when you’re pregnant. One of the best ways to do that is to stay in touch with us and with your care team. Schedule a hearing assessment with us as soon as possible.