Of course, pregnancy is awesome and fantastic. But in terms of how it can make you feel, it can be fairly uncomfortable, at least in some cases. There’s the morning sickness, the changes to your body, the health challenges, and all kinds of weird side effects. Getting there can be somewhat of a process, but that doesn’t take anything away from the happiness of being a parent.
And now there’s another potential little disadvantage to add to the list: hearing loss.
Most individuals don’t immediately associate hearing loss with pregnancy. So it might be a surprise to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is rather prevalent. It’s not a bad idea to watch out for these symptoms. In some cases, the source of pregnancy-associated hearing loss is harmless and banal. Sadly, sometimes the cause is a more serious issue that could require swift medical treatment. Will pregnancy-related hearing loss subside? Well, the answer sort of depends on the root cause, and how fast you treat it.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss symptoms
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t make an appearance on a lot of sitcoms or in many romantic comedies. Things like morning sickness are much more cinematic. People usually don’t expect pregnancy-related hearing loss, because of this. So knowing what to look out for can be helpful.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss is about more than just turning up the volume on your devices, after all. Here are some of the most common:
- A feeling of fullness in your ears: Pregnancy-induced hearing loss could in some cases be accompanied by a feeling of stuffiness or fullness in your ears.
- Everything seems quieter: Of course, this symptom of hearing loss is the most evident. But if it comes on suddenly, it’s something known as “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. Any form of abrupt 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 may require emergency treatment.
- Headaches and migraines: Regular headaches and migraines can also be more consistent.
- 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”. Whether this tinnitus exists by itself or with hearing loss, it’s worth consulting your care team about what you’re feeling.
- Dizziness and imbalance: In many instances, pregnancy-induced hearing loss can affect the inner ear (or, in some instances, whatever is impacting the inner ear is also causing hearing loss). Your hearing loss may be accompanied by dizziness and balance problems if you have an issue with your inner ear. Pregnancy-related hearing loss isn’t an exception.
These aren’t universal symptoms. You will most likely experience some symptoms and not others depending on the underlying cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss. In any case, if you experience hearing loss or any of the associated symptoms while you are pregnant, it’s usually a good idea to talk to your doctor. Because these symptoms might be an indication of a more serious issue.
The causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss
Does being pregnant affect hearing? Well, possibly, in some cases. 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-related hearing loss? Here are several of the most common causes:
- Some of the typical things: Whether you’re pregnant or not, typical things like blockages, sinus infections, and ear infections can trigger hearing loss.
- Hormone and circulatory changes: Your body is doing an exceptional amount of work when you get pregnant. As a result, all sorts of changes are afoot, both in terms of your hormones and your circulatory system.
- High blood pressure: When you are pregnant, high blood pressure can trigger tinnitus and hearing loss. And this is, to some extent, why it’s extremely important to tell your doctor about your hearing loss. Serious conditions, including preeclampsia, can cause high blood pressure. Throughout pregnancy, these problems should be tracked.
- 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 person.
- 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 fast. Pregnancy induces hormonal changes and other body changes that can cause this type of bone growth. It should be noted that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and exactly how much it affects hearing, is continuing.
Sometimes, the cause of your hearing loss could be hard to identify. The important thing will be to be mindful of your symptoms and be in frequent communication with your provider.
How do you treat this type of hearing loss?
The root cause of this form of hearing loss will generally 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 return to normal, or possibly even sooner.
However, this is not always the default, so it’s important to be proactive when you observe symptoms. You might require extra treatment if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, for example. Likewise, if you experience abrupt sensorineural hearing loss, the outcome will depend on how rapidly you receive treatment.
That’s why it’s so essential to be sure you report these symptoms to your provider. You might 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 severe possible impacts).
Protect your hearing
Protecting your hearing is something you need to watch out for particularly when you’re pregnant. Getting regular evaluations with us is one of the best ways to do that. Schedule a hearing examination with us as soon as possible.