It’s an awesome and incredible experience, having a child. But when it comes to how it can make you feel, it can be rather unpleasant, at least sometimes. There are all sorts of peculiar side effects, like morning sickness, health hazards, and changes to your body. 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 usually the first thing you think of when someone is talking about hearing loss. So it might be surprising to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is somewhat prevalent. It’s not a bad idea to keep an eye out for these symptoms. Pregnancy-associated hearing loss isn’t something you should be concerned about in most cases. Sadly, sometimes the cause is a more serious issue that could require swift 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.
Pregnancy-induced hearing loss symptoms
You typically won’t hear about pregnancy-induced hearing loss in pop-culture. It isn’t nearly as cinematic as things like morning sickness. This means that, generally, individuals may be less likely to anticipate pregnancy-related hearing loss. So, it may be helpful to know what to watch out for.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss goes beyond just cranking up the volume on your devices, after all. Here are a few of the most common:
- Headaches and migraines: Regular headaches and migraines can also be more consistent.
- Everything seems quieter: Certainly, this is probably the most obvious indication of hearing loss. But if it occurs suddenly, it’s something called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. Any type of sudden hearing loss during pregnancy should be reported to your healthcare team as soon as possible. You might require emergency treatment to stop the sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent.
- You feel plugged in your ears: Pregnancy-related hearing loss could in some cases be accompanied by a feeling of stuffiness or fullness in your ears.
- Dizziness and imbalance: In many cases, pregnancy-induced hearing loss can affect the inner ear (or, in some situations, whatever is affecting the inner ear is also causing hearing loss). Your hearing loss might be accompanied by dizziness and balance issues if you have a problem with your inner ear. And that also goes for pregnancy-induced hearing loss.
- Tinnitus: A ringing in your ears, known as tinnitus, is frequently associated with pregnancy-induced hearing loss. The rhythm and sound of your tinnitus symptoms can, in some cases, sound like your own heartbeat which is called “pulsatile tinnitus”. You should talk to your doctor about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
These aren’t universal symptoms. Depending on the underlying cause of your pregnancy-induced hearing loss, you might experience some symptoms but not others. In any event, 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 doctor. Because these symptoms could be an indication of a more serious problem.
The causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss
Does being pregnant impact hearing? Sometimes, possibly. But being pregnant may also affect other parts of your body that will then go on to impact your hearing.
So how can pregnancy-induced hearing loss possibly be caused? Well, the causes vary… but some of the most common include:
- Some of the typical things: Whether you’re pregnant or not, common things like obstructions, sinus infections, and ear infections can cause hearing loss.
- High blood pressure: When you are pregnant, high blood pressure can cause tinnitus and hearing loss. So telling your physician about your hearing loss symptoms is really important. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other severe conditions. Throughout pregnancy, these issues should be monitored.
- 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 effects for the pregnant woman.
- Bone growth: There’s a rare affliction called otosclerosis where the tiny bones in your ear start growing more rapidly, and this accelerated growth prevents sound from passing through your ears. In pregnant individuals, this faster bone growth might be caused by alterations in your hormones or other changes in your body. Otoscerlosis research is still an ongoing process, and scientists are still working out exactly how much it affects hearing.
- Hormone and circulatory changes: When you become pregnant, your body is doing an exceptional amount of work. Your hormones and circulatory system are going through lots of changes, as a result.
Sometimes, the cause of your hearing loss may be difficult to determine. The important thing will be to be mindful of your symptoms and be in regular communication with your doctor.
How do you manage this type of hearing loss?
Treatment of this kind of hearing loss will usually depend on the root cause. Will my hearing return to normal? This is the most prevalent question individuals will have. 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 important to be proactive when you detect symptoms. You might require additional treatment if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, for example. Likewise, if you suffer from sudden sensorineural hearing loss, the outcome will depend on how rapidly you receive treatment.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure you report these symptoms to your provider. The next step will most likely be a comprehensive hearing evaluation to eliminate any more serious conditions and try to diagnose the inherent cause.
Protect your hearing
Even when you’re pregnant, while you’re juggling so many other things, it’s essential to be certain you watch out for and protect your hearing. One of the best ways to do that is to stay in touch with us and with your care team. Schedule a hearing exam with us right away.