Of course, pregnancy is awesome and incredible. But it can also be kind of… unpleasant, at least sometimes, 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 sorts of weird side effects. None of this detracts from the joy of being a parent… but it’s a whole undertaking to get there.
And now there’s another possible small drawback to add to the list: hearing loss.
Pregnancy isn’t typically the first thing you think of when somebody is talking about hearing loss. So it might be surprising to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is fairly common. This means that these symptoms are worth watching out for. In some cases, the source of pregnancy-associated hearing loss is harmless and insignificant. Unfortunately, sometimes the cause is a more serious problem that could require swift medical attention. Will pregnancy-related hearing loss clear up? Well, the answer sort of depends on the root cause, and how rapidly you treat it.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss?
You usually won’t hear about pregnancy-related hearing loss in pop-culture. It’s not nearly as cinematic as things like morning sickness. This means that, generally speaking, individuals might be less likely to anticipate pregnancy-related hearing loss. So knowing what to look out for can be helpful.
After all, the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss are about more than turning the volume up on your television. Here are a few of the most common:
- 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 by itself or with hearing loss, it’s worth talking to your care team about what you’re feeling.
- Everything seems quieter: Of course, this indication of hearing loss is the most evident. But a condition known as “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” occurs all of a sudden and can be more noticeable. Any form of sudden hearing loss during pregnancy should be conveyed to your healthcare team as soon as you can. In order to stop sudden hearing loss from becoming irreversible, you may need emergency treatment.
- Headaches and migraines: Regular headaches and migraines can also be more frequent.
- You feel plugged in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears frequently accompanies pregnancy-induced 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 cause of that hearing loss. Whenever your inner ear is not working correctly, you may have problems with balance and dizziness accompanying your hearing loss. And that also goes for pregnancy-related hearing loss.
None of these symptoms are fundamentally universal. Depending on the underlying cause of your pregnancy-induced hearing loss, you may experience some symptoms but not others. In any case, if you experience hearing loss or any of the associated symptoms while you are pregnant, it’s generally a good plan to talk to your doctor. That’s because these symptoms can sometimes be an indication of some rare but larger issues.
The causes of pregnancy-induced hearing loss
Does being pregnant affect hearing? Sometimes, maybe. But being pregnant may also impact other parts of your body that will then go on to impact your hearing.
So, what are the likely causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss? Here are several of the most common causes:
- Hormone and circulatory changes: Your body is performing an extraordinary amount of work when you get pregnant. Your hormones and circulatory system are going through lots of changes, as an outcome.
- High blood pressure: When you’re pregnant, high blood pressure can cause tinnitus and hearing loss. And this is, to some extent, why it’s extremely important to tell your doctor about your hearing loss. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other severe ailments. These are problems that need to be watched carefully throughout your pregnancy.
- An iron deficiency: Your health, and the health of your baby, can both be affected in lots of ways by an iron deficiency. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those impacts for the pregnant woman.
- Some of the typical things: If you get an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any kind of obstruction in your ear (like earwax), this can cause hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
- 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 blocks the ability of sound to pass through your ears. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes and other body changes that can cause this kind of bone growth. Otoscerlosis research is still an ongoing process, and scientists are still working out exactly how much it affects hearing.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss could be hard to determine. The important thing will be to keep an eye on your symptoms and be in regular communication with your doctor.
How do you manage this type of hearing loss?
The underlying cause of this form of hearing loss will largely determine the course of treatment. The question that most people have is: will my hearing loss clear up? Once your pregnancy is over, your hearing should go back to normal, or possibly even sooner.
But it’s also important to get treatment for any symptoms you detect because getting your hearing back isn’t always certain. You might need additional treatment if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, for instance. The results will also depend on how fast you get treatment when it comes to abrupt sensorineural hearing loss.
For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your doctor is so important. 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 particularly 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.