Sure, pregnancy is awesome and wonderful. But in terms of how it can make you feel, it can be rather uncomfortable, at least in some cases. There are all kinds of strange side effects, like morning sickness, health challenges, and changes to your body. None of this takes away from the delight of being a parent… but it’s a whole undertaking to get there.
And now there’s another potential little disadvantage to add to the list: hearing loss.
Pregnancy isn’t normally the first thing you think of when someone is talking about hearing loss. But pregnancy-associated hearing loss is actually more prevalent than most people might presume. This means that these symptoms are worth keeping on your radar. Pregnancy-related hearing loss isn’t something you need to be worried about in most cases. Unfortunately, sometimes the cause is a more serious problem that could call for swift medical treatment. Will pregnancy-related hearing loss subside? Well, it could be, depending on how quickly you address it and what the root cause is.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss symptoms
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t show up on a lot of sitcoms or in many romantic comedies. Things like morning sickness are a lot more cinematic. This means that, generally speaking, people may be less likely to anticipate pregnancy-related hearing loss. So knowing what to look out for can be helpful.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss goes beyond just cranking up the volume on your devices, after all. Here are a few of the most common:
- Everything seems quieter: Certainly, this is probably the most evident sign of hearing loss. But if it happens suddenly, it’s something called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. Any form of sudden hearing loss during pregnancy should be reported to your healthcare team as soon as you can. In order to stop sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent, you might need emergency treatment.
- Tinnitus: A ringing in your ears, known as tinnitus, is often linked to pregnancy-induced hearing loss. In some circumstances, this tinnitus may even sound like or take on the rhythm of your own heartbeat (this is known as pulsatile tinnitus). Whether this tinnitus exists on its own or with hearing loss, it’s worth talking to your doctor about what you’re feeling.
- A plugged feeling in your ears: Pregnancy-related hearing loss could sometimes be accompanied by a feeling of stuffiness or fullness in your ears.
- Headaches and migraines: Regular headaches and migraines can also be more frequent.
- Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be impacted by pregnancy-related hearing loss, or in some cases a pre-existing issue with the inner ear can be the cause of that hearing loss. Your hearing loss might be accompanied by dizziness and balance issues if you have a problem with your inner ear. Pregnancy-related hearing loss isn’t an exception.
None of these symptoms are fundamentally universal. You will probably experience some symptoms and not others depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss. In any event, if you experience hearing loss or any of the associated symptoms while you are pregnant, it’s usually a good plan to talk to your provider. That’s because these symptoms can sometimes be a sign of some rare but larger issues.
What causes pregnancy-related hearing loss?
Is hearing affected by pregnancy? Sometimes, maybe. But being pregnant might also affect other parts of your body that will then go on to impact your hearing.
So how can pregnancy-related hearing loss possibly be caused? Here are some of the most common causes:
- Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): Your body is performing an extraordinary amount of work when you get pregnant. As a consequence, all kinds of changes are happening, both in terms of your hormones and your circulatory system.
- Some of the typical things: If you develop an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any kind of blockage in your ear (like earwax), this can trigger hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
- An iron deficiency: An iron deficiency while you’re pregnant can have a wide variety of consequences for your health and your child’s health. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those effects for the pregnant woman.
- Bone growth: The ability for sound to pass through your ears can be blocked by a condition called otosclerosis which causes the tiny bones in your ear to grow too quickly. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes and other body changes that can lead to this kind of bone growth. It should be noted that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and exactly how much it impacts hearing, is ongoing.
- High blood pressure: Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the result of high blood pressure which can be brought about by pregnancy. So telling your doctor about your hearing loss symptoms is really important. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other serious conditions. These are issues that should be monitored carefully throughout your pregnancy.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss could be hard to identify. Routinely talking to your physician and keeping an eye on your symptoms is the key here.
How is this type of hearing loss treated?
Treatment of this type of hearing loss will likely depend on the underlying cause. The question that many people have is: will my hearing return to normal? In most situations, yes, your hearing will go back to normal once you’re no longer pregnant, or possibly even before.
However, this isn’t always the default, so it’s essential to be proactive when you detect symptoms. You may require extra treatment if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, for instance. Similarly, if you suffer from abrupt sensorineural hearing loss, the outcome will depend on how fast you receive treatment.
That’s why it’s so important to be sure you report these symptoms to your provider. You may then undergo a comprehensive hearing screening or evaluation to help get to the bottom of your symptoms (or at least eliminate any of the more severe possible impacts).
Protect your hearing
Protecting your hearing is something you should watch out for especially when you’re pregnant. Getting regular evaluations with us is one of the best ways to do that. Give us a call today to set up a hearing assessment.