Sure, pregnancy is awesome and wonderful. But when it comes to how it can make you feel, it can be pretty unpleasant, 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 a bit of a process, but that doesn’t detract from the happiness of being a parent.
And now there’s another potential little disadvantage to add to the list: hearing loss.
Pregnancy isn’t usually the first thing you think of when someone is talking about hearing loss. So it may be surprising to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is rather prevalent. This means that these symptoms are worth keeping on your radar. In some cases, the source of pregnancy-induced hearing loss is innocuous and banal. In other cases, the cause is a serious concern and may require immediate medical treatment. Is hearing loss during pregnancy permanent? Well, it could be, depending on how rapidly you treat it and what the root cause is.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy-induced hearing loss?
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t appear on a lot of sitcoms or in very many romantic comedies. It isn’t nearly as cinematic as things like morning sickness. People generally don’t expect pregnancy-related hearing loss, because of this. So, it may be useful to know what to look out for.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss goes beyond simply cranking up the volume on your devices, after all. The most common symptoms include the following:
- Dizziness and imbalance: In many cases, pregnancy-related hearing loss can impact 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.
- You feel plugged in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears often accompanies pregnancy-induced hearing loss.
- Everything seems quieter: Of course, this indication of hearing loss is the most obvious. But a condition called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” happens abruptly and can be more noticeable. Any type of sudden hearing loss during pregnancy should be conveyed to your healthcare team as soon as possible. In order to prevent sudden hearing loss from becoming irreversible, you might need emergency treatment.
- Headaches and migraines: You might also have an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you get on a regular basis.
- Tinnitus: A ringing in your ears, known as tinnitus, is often associated with pregnancy-related hearing loss. In some cases, this tinnitus may even sound like or take on the rhythm of your own heartbeat (this is known as 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.
None of these symptoms are inevitably universal. You will probably experience some symptoms and not others depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-induced hearing loss. Either way, it’s a good plan to talk to your doctor if experience any of these hearing loss symptoms. Because these symptoms may be an indication of a more serious issue.
The causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss
Is hearing impacted by pregnancy? Well, possibly, sometimes. But being pregnant might also affect other parts of your body that will then go on to impact your hearing.
So how can pregnancy-related hearing loss possibly be caused? Well, the causes differ… but some of the most prevalent include:
- An iron deficiency: An iron deficiency while you’re pregnant can have a wide variety of repercussions for your health and your child’s health. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those impacts for the pregnant woman.
- High blood pressure: Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the outcome of high blood pressure which can be brought about by pregnancy. And this is, in part, why it’s very important to tell your provider about your hearing loss. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other severe ailments. These are issues that need to be monitored carefully throughout your pregnancy.
- 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 quicker bone growth may be caused by changes in your hormones or other changes in your body. Otoscerlosis research is still an ongoing process, and scientists are still figuring out just how much it affects hearing.
- Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): Your body is performing an exceptional amount of work when you become pregnant. Your hormones and circulatory system are going through lots of changes, as a result.
- Some of the typical things: If you get an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any type of blockage in your ear (like earwax), this can cause hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss could be hard to determine. The essential thing will be to be mindful of your symptoms and be in frequent communication with your provider.
How is this kind of hearing loss treated?
The root cause of this kind of hearing loss will largely determine the course of treatment. Will my hearing return to normal? This is the most common question individuals will have. In most cases, yes, your hearing will go back to normal once your pregnancy is over, or maybe even before.
But it’s also important to get treatment for any symptoms you notice because getting your hearing back isn’t always a given. You may require extra treatment if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, for instance. The outcome will also depend on how fast you get treatment in the case of sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your physician is so important. The next step will probably be a complete hearing assessment to eliminate any more serious conditions and try to diagnose the root cause.
Protect your hearing
Even when you’re pregnant, while you’re managing so many other things, it’s essential to be sure you pay attention to and protect your hearing. One of the best ways to do that is to stay in touch with us and with your care team. Give us a call today to schedule a hearing evaluation.