It’s an amazing and wonderful experience, having a baby. But it can also be sort of… uncomfortable, at least at times, and at least in terms of how it can make you feel. There’s the morning sickness, the difference in your body, the health hazards, and all kinds of weird side effects. None of this takes away from the happiness of being a parent… but it’s a whole process to get there.
And now we can add hearing loss to that list of disadvantages.
Pregnancy isn’t normally the first thing you think of when someone is talking about hearing loss. So it might be a surprise to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is rather prevalent. It’s not a bad plan to keep an eye out for these symptoms. In some cases, the cause of pregnancy-induced hearing loss is innocuous and insignificant. In other cases, the cause is a serious issue and could call for immediate medical treatment. Will pregnancy-related hearing loss clear up? Well, it could be, depending on how fast you treat it and what the root cause is.
Pregnancy-induced hearing loss symptoms
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t appear on a lot of sitcoms or in many romantic comedies. It’s not nearly as cinematic as things like morning sickness. This means that, generally speaking, people might be less likely to expect pregnancy-related hearing loss. So, it may be beneficial to know what to watch out for.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss is about more than simply cranking up the volume on your devices, after all. Here are some of the most common:
- Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be affected by pregnancy-induced hearing loss, or in some cases a pre-existing issue with the inner ear can be the source of that hearing loss. Your hearing loss may be accompanied by dizziness and balance problems if you have an issue with your inner ear. And that also applies to pregnancy-related hearing loss.
- Tinnitus: A ringing in your ears, called tinnitus, is frequently linked to pregnancy-related hearing loss. The rhythm and sound of your tinnitus symptoms can, in some cases, sound like your own heartbeat which is called “pulsatile tinnitus”. Whether this tinnitus exists on its own or with hearing loss, it’s worth consulting your doctor about what you’re feeling.
- A plugged feeling in your ears: Pregnancy-induced hearing loss could in some cases be accompanied by a feeling of being plugged or fullness in your ears.
- Headaches and migraines: You might also have an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you get on a regular basis.
- Everything seems quieter: Sure, this is probably the most obvious indication of hearing loss. But a condition called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” happens all of a sudden and can be more noticeable. Any type of sudden hearing loss during pregnancy should be conveyed to your healthcare team as soon as possible. In order to prevent sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent, you might need emergency treatment.
These aren’t universal symptoms. You will most likely experience some symptoms and not others depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss. Either way, it’s a good plan to contact your doctor if experience any of these hearing loss symptoms. That’s because these symptoms can sometimes be an indication of some rare but larger problems.
What causes pregnancy-related hearing loss?
Does being pregnant impact hearing? Sometimes, possibly. But other parts of your body are impacted by pregnancy and those parts of your body can then affect your hearing.
So, what are the likely causes of pregnancy-induced hearing loss? Here are several of the most common causes:
- Some of the typical things: Whether you’re pregnant or not, common things like blockages, sinus infections, and ear infections can cause hearing loss.
- High blood pressure: Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the result of high blood pressure which can be caused by pregnancy. And this is, in part, why it’s really important to tell your provider about your hearing loss. Serious ailments, including preeclampsia, can cause high blood pressure. Throughout pregnancy, these issues should be tracked.
- An iron deficiency: An iron deficiency while you’re pregnant can have a wide variety of repercussions for your health and your child’s health. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those effects for the pregnant woman.
- Bone growth: There’s a rare affliction known as otosclerosis where the tiny bones in your ear begin growing more rapidly, and this accelerated growth prevents sound from passing through your ears. In pregnant women, this quicker bone growth might be caused by alterations in your hormones or other changes in your body. It should be mentioned that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and just how much it impacts hearing, is continuing.
- Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): Your body is doing an exceptional amount of work when you get pregnant. As a result, all kinds of changes are happening, both with respect to your hormones and your circulatory system.
Sometimes, the cause of your hearing loss could be difficult to determine. Routinely talking to your physician and keeping track of your symptoms is the key here.
How is this type of hearing loss managed?
The underlying cause of this form of hearing loss will generally dictate the course of treatment. Will my hearing go back to normal? This is the most common question people will have. Once your pregnancy has ended, your hearing should go back to normal, or maybe even sooner.
However, this is not always the situation, so it’s important to be proactive when you notice symptoms. You might need extra treatment if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, for example. Likewise, if you experience sudden sensorineural hearing loss, the results will depend on how quickly you receive treatment.
That’s why it’s so important to be certain that you report these symptoms to your doctor. You may then go through a comprehensive hearing screening or assessment to help get to the bottom of your symptoms (or at least rule out any of the more dangerous 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 remain in touch with us and with your care team. Give us a call today to schedule a hearing evaluation.