It’s an amazing and incredible experience, having a baby. But it can also be kind of… unpleasant, at least at times, and at least in terms of how it can make you feel. There’s the morning sickness, the difference in your body, the health challenges, and all kinds of strange side effects. Getting there can be a bit of a process, but that doesn’t take anything away from the joy of being a parent.
And now we can add hearing loss to that list of disadvantages.
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 people might think. It’s not a bad idea to watch out for these symptoms. In some cases, the cause of pregnancy-related hearing loss is harmless and insignificant. 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-induced hearing loss?
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t show up on a lot of sitcoms or in many romantic comedies. Things like morning sickness are a lot more cinematic. This means that, generally speaking, people may be less likely to expect pregnancy-related hearing loss. So, it might be useful to know what to watch out for.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss is about more than just cranking the volume up on your devices, after all. The most common symptoms include the following:
- Headaches and migraines: You might also experience an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you get regularly.
- Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be affected by pregnancy-related hearing loss, or in some cases a pre-existing problem with the inner ear can be the cause of that hearing loss. Whenever your inner ear isn’t functioning correctly, you might experience problems with balance and dizziness with your hearing loss. Pregnancy-related hearing loss is no exception.
- 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 instances, sound like your own heartbeat which is known as “pulsatile tinnitus”. Whether this tinnitus exists on its own or with hearing loss, it’s worth talking to your doctor about what you’re feeling.
- A feeling of fullness in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears frequently accompanies pregnancy-related hearing loss.
- Everything seems quieter: Sure, this is likely the most obvious indication of hearing loss. But if it happens abruptly, it’s something called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. Any form of sudden hearing loss during pregnancy should be conveyed to your healthcare team as soon as possible. You might need emergency treatment to prevent the sudden hearing loss from becoming irreversible.
These aren’t universal symptoms. Depending on the underlying cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss, you may experience some symptoms but maybe not others. Either way, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor if experience any of these hearing loss symptoms. Because these symptoms could be an indication of a more serious problem.
The causes of pregnancy-induced hearing loss
Is hearing affected by pregnancy? In some cases, maybe. But other parts of your body are impacted by pregnancy and those parts of your body can then impact your hearing.
So, what are the possible causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss? 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 consequences for your health and your child’s health. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those effects for the pregnant person.
- Some of the typical things: If you develop an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any kind of obstruction in your ear (like earwax), this can cause hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
- High blood pressure: When you are pregnant, high blood pressure can trigger tinnitus and hearing loss. So telling your physician about your hearing loss symptoms is very important. Serious ailments, including preeclampsia, can trigger high blood pressure. Throughout pregnancy, these problems should be tracked.
- Bone growth: There’s a rare condition known as otosclerosis where the tiny bones in your ear start growing more quickly, and this accelerated growth prevents sound from passing through your ears. In pregnant individuals, this quicker bone growth might be caused by alterations in your hormones or other changes in your body. It should be noted that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and just how much it affects hearing, is continuing.
- Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): When you get pregnant, your body is doing an exceptional amount of work. As a result, all kinds of changes are happening, both with respect to your hormones and your circulatory system.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss may be hard to identify. Regularly consulting your doctor and keeping track of your symptoms is the key here.
How do you treat this kind of hearing loss?
The underlying cause of this kind of hearing loss will largely dictate the course of treatment. The question that most individuals have is: will my hearing loss clear up? In most situations, yes, your hearing will go back to normal once you’re no longer pregnant, or possibly even before.
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 require additional treatment if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, for instance. Likewise, if you experience sudden sensorineural hearing loss, the outcome will depend on how fast you receive treatment.
That’s why it’s so essential to be certain that you report these symptoms to your provider. You may then undergo a complete hearing screening or assessment to help figure out your symptoms (or at least rule out any of the more dangerous possible impacts).
Protect your hearing
Even when you’re pregnant, while you’re juggling so many other things, it’s essential to be sure 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. Give us a call today to set up a hearing assessment.