Sure, pregnancy is amazing and fantastic. But it can also be kind of… uncomfortable, at least sometimes, and at least when it involves how it can make you feel. 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 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.
Pregnancy isn’t typically the first thing you think of when somebody is talking about hearing loss. So it might be a surprise to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is rather prevalent. It’s not a bad plan to watch out for these symptoms. Pregnancy-induced hearing loss isn’t something you need to be concerned about in most cases. Sadly, sometimes the cause is a more serious issue that could require swift medical attention. Will pregnancy-related hearing loss subside? Well, it could be, depending on how rapidly you address it and what the root cause is.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss?
You usually won’t hear about pregnancy-related hearing loss in pop-culture. Things like morning sickness are a lot more cinematic. This means that, generally speaking, people might be less likely to expect pregnancy-related hearing loss. So, it might be useful to know what to watch out for.
After all, the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss are about more than cranking the volume up on your television. The most common symptoms include the following:
- Tinnitus: Pregnancy-related hearing loss is frequently associated with tinnitus, or a ringing or buzzing in the ears. In some circumstances, this tinnitus might even sound like or take on the rhythm of your own heartbeat (this is called pulsatile tinnitus). You should talk to your doctor about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
- Everything seems quieter: Certainly, this is probably the most obvious sign of hearing loss. But a condition known as “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” comes on abruptly and can be more apparent. You should convey any sudden hearing loss during pregnancy to your doctor as soon as you can. You might need emergency treatment to prevent the sudden hearing loss from becoming irreversible.
- Headaches and migraines: Regular headaches and migraines can also be more consistent.
- 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 might be accompanied by dizziness and balance issues if you have a problem 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-related hearing loss.
These aren’t universal symptoms. Depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss, you may experience some symptoms but not others. In any case, if you experience hearing loss or any of the related symptoms while you are pregnant, it’s generally a good idea to talk to your provider. Because these symptoms may be an indication of a more serious problem.
The causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss
Is hearing affected by pregnancy? Sometimes, maybe. 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? Well, the causes vary… but some of the most common include:
- Some of the typical things: Whether you’re pregnant or not, typical things like obstructions, sinus infections, and ear infections can cause hearing loss.
- 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 quickly. 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 a continuing process, and scientists are still figuring out exactly how much it impacts hearing.
- Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): 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 an outcome.
- High blood pressure: While you’re pregnant, high blood pressure can cause tinnitus and hearing loss. And this is, to some extent, why it’s very important to tell your provider about your hearing loss. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other serious ailments. Throughout pregnancy, these issues should be tracked.
- An iron deficiency: An iron deficiency while you’re pregnant can have a wide variety of consequences for your health and your baby’s health. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those impacts for the pregnant person.
In some situations, the cause of your hearing loss simply won’t be all that well comprehended. Regularly consulting your doctor and keeping track of your symptoms is the key here.
How is this kind of hearing loss treated?
The root cause of this form of hearing loss will largely determine the course of treatment. The question that many people have is: will my hearing loss clear up? In most situations, yes, your hearing will go back to normal once your pregnancy is over, or possibly even before.
However, this is not always the situation, so it’s essential to be proactive when you observe symptoms. For instance, if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, you could require additional treatment. The results will also depend on how fast you get treatment in the case of abrupt sensorineural hearing loss.
That’s why it’s so important to be sure you report these symptoms to your provider. You may then go through a comprehensive hearing screening or assessment to help get to the bottom of 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 essential to make sure you pay attention to and safeguard 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 assessment.