It’s an awesome and wonderful experience, having a baby. But it can also be sort of… uncomfortable, at least at times, and at least when it involves how it can make you feel. There’s the morning sickness, the difference in your body, the health challenges, and all sorts of strange side effects. None of this takes away from the joy of being a parent… but it’s a whole undertaking to get there.
And now there’s another possible little drawback 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 individuals might think. It’s not a bad plan to keep an eye out for these symptoms. Pregnancy-related hearing loss isn’t something you should be worried about in most cases. In other cases, the cause is a serious concern and could call for immediate medical treatment. Will pregnancy-related hearing loss go away? Well, the answer kind of depends on the underlying cause, and how fast you treat it.
Pregnancy-induced hearing loss symptoms
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t appear on a lot of sitcoms or in many romantic comedies. Things like morning sickness are a lot more cinematic. People generally don’t expect pregnancy-related hearing loss, because of this. So, it may be helpful to know what to watch out for.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss is about more than just cranking up the volume on your devices, after all. The most common symptoms include the following:
- Tinnitus: Pregnancy-related hearing loss is often linked to tinnitus, or a ringing or buzzing in the ears. The rhythm and sound of your tinnitus symptoms can, in some circumstances, sound like your own heartbeat which is known as “pulsatile tinnitus”. You should talk to your physician about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
- Headaches and migraines: Regular headaches and migraines can also be more consistent.
- You feel a fullness in your ears: Pregnancy-related hearing loss could in some cases be accompanied by a feeling of being plugged or fullness in your ears.
- Everything seems quieter: Of course, this indication of hearing loss is the most obvious. But if it comes on suddenly, it’s something known as “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. You should convey any sudden hearing loss during pregnancy to your provider as soon as possible. You may require emergency treatment to stop the sudden hearing loss from becoming irreversible.
- Dizziness and imbalance: In many cases, pregnancy-induced hearing loss can impact the inner ear (or, in some cases, whatever is affecting the inner ear is also causing hearing loss). Your hearing loss may be accompanied by dizziness and balance issues if you have an issue with your inner ear. Pregnancy-related hearing loss isn’t an exception.
None of these symptoms are necessarily universal. Depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss, you might experience some symptoms but not others. Either way, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor if experience any of these hearing loss symptoms. That’s because these symptoms can sometimes be a sign of some rare but bigger issues.
The causes of pregnancy-induced hearing loss
Is hearing affected by pregnancy? Well, perhaps, in some cases. But other parts of your body are affected by pregnancy and those parts of your body can then impact your hearing.
So how can pregnancy-induced hearing loss possibly be caused? Here are some of the most common causes:
- 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 trigger hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
- Bone growth: There’s a rare condition called otosclerosis in which the tiny bones in your ear begin growing more rapidly, and this accelerated growth prevents sound from passing through your ears. In pregnant women, this quicker bone growth may be caused by changes in your hormones or other changes in your body. It should be mentioned that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and just how much it affects hearing, is continuing.
- An iron deficiency: An iron deficiency while you’re pregnant can have a wide variety of repercussions for your health and your baby’s health. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those impacts for the pregnant person.
- High blood pressure: While you are pregnant, high blood pressure can cause tinnitus and hearing loss. And this is, to some extent, why it’s extremely important to tell your provider about your hearing loss. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other serious conditions. These are issues that need to be tracked carefully throughout your pregnancy.
- Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): Your body is doing an exceptional amount of work when you become pregnant. Your hormones and circulatory system are experiencing lots of changes, as a result.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss could be difficult to identify. The essential thing will be to keep an eye on your symptoms and be in frequent communication with your doctor.
How is this form of hearing loss treated?
Treatment of this kind of hearing loss will usually depend on the underlying cause. The question that many people have is: will my hearing return to normal? Once your pregnancy is over, your hearing should go back to normal, or maybe even sooner.
But it’s also essential to get treatment for any symptoms you notice because getting your hearing back isn’t always a given. You may need additional treatment if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, for example. The outcome will also depend on how quickly you get treatment when it comes to abrupt sensorineural hearing loss.
For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your physician is so important. You may then go through a comprehensive hearing screening or evaluation to help figure out your symptoms (or at least eliminate any of the more severe possible impacts).
Protect your hearing
Even when you’re pregnant, while you’re juggling so many other things, it’s important to make sure you pay attention to and protect your hearing. 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 set up a hearing evaluation.