Sure, pregnancy is amazing and wonderful. But in terms of how it can make you feel, it can be pretty uncomfortable, at least in some cases. There’s the morning sickness, the difference in your body, the health challenges, and all sorts of strange side effects. Getting there can be somewhat of a process, but that doesn’t detract from the happiness of being a parent.
And now we can add hearing loss to that list of disadvantages.
Most people don’t instantly associate hearing loss with pregnancy. But pregnancy-induced hearing loss is actually more common than most people may presume. This means that these symptoms are worth watching out for. In some cases, the source of pregnancy-related hearing loss is innocuous and insignificant. In other cases, the cause is a serious issue and may call for immediate medical attention. Is hearing loss during pregnancy irreversible? Well, it could be, depending on how rapidly you treat it and what the underlying cause is.
Pregnancy-induced hearing loss symptoms
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t show up on a lot of sitcoms or in very many romantic comedies. Things like morning sickness are much more cinematic. People typically don’t expect pregnancy-related hearing loss, because of this. So, it might be beneficial to know what to watch out for.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss goes beyond simply turning up the volume 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 on a regular basis.
- Everything seems quieter: Sure, this is probably the most evident sign of hearing loss. But if it happens suddenly, it’s something called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. Any type of sudden hearing loss during pregnancy should be conveyed to your healthcare team as soon as you can. You may require emergency treatment to stop the sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent.
- Tinnitus: A ringing in your ears, known as tinnitus, is often linked to pregnancy-induced hearing loss. In some situations, this tinnitus may even sound like or take on the rhythm of your own heartbeat (this is known as pulsatile tinnitus). You should consult your physician about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
- You feel a fullness in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears frequently accompanies pregnancy-induced hearing loss.
- Dizziness and imbalance: In many instances, pregnancy-induced hearing loss can affect the inner ear (or, in some situations, whatever is affecting the inner ear is also causing hearing loss). Whenever your inner ear isn’t working correctly, you may experience problems with balance and dizziness with your hearing loss. Pregnancy-related hearing loss isn’t an exception.
None of these symptoms are inevitably universal. Depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss, you might experience some symptoms but not others. In any case, if you experience hearing loss or any of the associated symptoms while you are pregnant, it’s generally a good plan to talk to your doctor. That’s because these symptoms can sometimes be an indication of some rare but bigger issues.
The causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss
Is hearing affected by pregnancy? Sometimes, maybe. But being pregnant may also impact other parts of your body that will then go on to impact your hearing.
So, what are the potential causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss? Here are some of the most common causes:
- Bone growth: There’s a rare affliction called otosclerosis in which the tiny bones in your ear begin growing more quickly, and this accelerated growth prevents sound from passing through your ears. Pregnancy produces hormonal changes and other body changes that can lead to this kind of bone growth. Otoscerlosis research is still an ongoing process, and scientists are still working out exactly how much it affects hearing.
- 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.
- Some of the typical things: If you get an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any kind of blockage in your ear (such as earwax), this can trigger hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
- High blood pressure: When you’re pregnant, high blood pressure can cause tinnitus and hearing loss. 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 serious ailments. These are issues that need to be tracked carefully throughout your pregnancy.
- 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 experiencing lots of changes, as an outcome.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss just won’t be all that well understood. The essential thing will be to keep track of your symptoms and be in regular communication with your provider.
How is this kind of hearing loss treated?
Treatment of this type of hearing loss will likely depend on the root cause. Will my hearing return to normal? This is the most prevalent question individuals will have. Once your pregnancy is over, your hearing should go back to normal, or possibly even sooner.
But it’s also essential to get treatment for any symptoms you detect because getting your hearing back isn’t always certain. You might need extra treatment if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, for instance. Likewise, if you suffer from sudden sensorineural hearing loss, the outcome will depend on how fast you receive treatment.
For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your physician is so important. You might then undergo a complete hearing screening or evaluation to help get to the bottom of your symptoms (or at least eliminate any of the more dangerous possible impacts).
Protect your hearing
Even when you’re pregnant, while you’re managing so many other things, it’s important to be sure you watch out for 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 evaluation.