It’s an amazing and incredible experience, having a child. But when it comes to how it can make you feel, it can be fairly unpleasant, at least sometimes. There’s the morning sickness, the difference in your body, the health challenges, and all kinds of strange side effects. None of this detracts 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.
Most individuals don’t instantly connect hearing loss with pregnancy. So it may be surprising to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is fairly common. It’s not a bad idea to watch out for these symptoms. In some cases, the cause of pregnancy-induced hearing loss is innocuous and banal. In other cases, the cause is a serious concern and might require immediate medical treatment. Is hearing loss during pregnancy permanent? Well, the answer sort of depends on the root cause, and how quickly you address it.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss?
You usually won’t hear about pregnancy-induced hearing loss in pop-culture. Things like morning sickness are much more cinematic. This means that, generally, people 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 up the volume on your television. Here are a few of the most common:
- Everything seems quieter: Sure, this is probably the most obvious indication of hearing loss. But a condition known as “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” comes on abruptly and can be more obvious. Any type 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 permanent, you might require emergency treatment.
- Tinnitus: Pregnancy-related hearing loss is often associated with 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 called “pulsatile tinnitus”. Whether this tinnitus exists on its own or with hearing loss, it’s worth talking to your care team about what you’re feeling.
- A feeling of fullness in your ears: Pregnancy-induced hearing loss might in some cases be accompanied by a feeling of stuffiness or fullness in your ears.
- Dizziness and imbalance: In many instances, pregnancy-related hearing loss can impact the inner ear (or, in some situations, whatever is impacting the inner ear is also causing hearing loss). Whenever your inner ear is not functioning correctly, you might experience problems with balance and dizziness accompanying your hearing loss. And that also applies to pregnancy-related hearing loss.
- Headaches and migraines: You might also have an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you get on a regular basis.
None of these symptoms are inevitably universal. You will probably experience some symptoms and not others depending on the underlying cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss. Either way, it’s a good plan to consult your doctor if experience any of these hearing loss symptoms. Because these symptoms may be an indication of a more serious issue.
What causes pregnancy-related hearing loss?
Does being pregnant affect hearing? Well, maybe, in some cases. But being pregnant might also impact other parts of your body that will then go on to impact your hearing.
So, what are the potential causes of pregnancy-induced hearing loss? Here are several of the most common causes:
- High blood pressure: Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the outcome of high blood pressure which can be caused by pregnancy. So telling your doctor about your hearing loss symptoms is very important. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other severe conditions. These are problems that should be monitored carefully throughout your pregnancy.
- Bone growth: The ability for sound to pass through your ears can be blocked by a disorder called otosclerosis which causes the tiny bones in your ear to grow too quickly. Pregnancy induces 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 just how much it affects hearing, is continuing.
- Some of the typical things: If you get an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any type of blockage in your ear (such as earwax), this can cause hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
- Hormone and circulatory changes: Your body is doing an extraordinary amount of work when you become pregnant. Your hormones and circulatory system are going through lots of changes, as a result.
- An iron deficiency: Your health, and the health of your baby, can both be impacted in lots of ways by an iron deficiency. One of those impacts can in some cases be hearing loss in the woman who is pregnant.
Sometimes, the cause of your hearing loss could be hard to determine. The important thing will be to be mindful of your symptoms and be in frequent communication with your provider.
How do you manage this form of hearing loss?
The root cause of this form of hearing loss will generally dictate the course of treatment. The question that most people have is: will my hearing return to normal? Once your pregnancy has ended, your hearing should return to normal, or maybe even sooner.
However, this isn’t always the default, so it’s important to be proactive when you notice symptoms. You may require additional treatment if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, for instance. The outcome will also depend on how rapidly you get treatment when it comes to abrupt sensorineural hearing loss.
For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your physician is so important. The next step will probably be a thorough hearing assessment to eliminate any more serious conditions and try to diagnose the underlying cause.
Protect your hearing
Protecting your hearing is something you need to watch out for particularly 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.