Sure, pregnancy is awesome and incredible. 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 detracts from the delight of being a parent… but it’s a whole undertaking to get there.
And now we can add hearing loss to that list of drawbacks.
Pregnancy isn’t normally the first thing you think of when somebody is talking about hearing loss. So it may be surprising to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is fairly common. It’s not a bad idea to keep an eye out for these symptoms. In some cases, the source of pregnancy-induced hearing loss is harmless and insignificant. In other cases, the cause is a serious concern and may require immediate medical attention. Is hearing loss during pregnancy permanent? Well, the answer sort of depends on the root cause, and how quickly you address it.
Pregnancy-induced hearing loss symptoms
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. This means that, generally speaking, individuals might be less likely to expect pregnancy-related hearing loss. So knowing what to watch out for can be helpful.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss is about more than just cranking up the volume on your devices, after all. Here are a few of the most common:
- Everything seems quieter: Sure, this is probably the most apparent indication of hearing loss. But if it comes on suddenly, it’s something called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. Any type of abrupt hearing loss during pregnancy should be conveyed to your healthcare team as soon as you can. You might require emergency treatment to prevent the sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent.
- A feeling of fullness in your ears: Pregnancy-related hearing loss may sometimes be accompanied by a feeling of being plugged or fullness in your ears.
- Tinnitus: A ringing in your ears, known as tinnitus, is frequently linked to pregnancy-related hearing loss. 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 doctor about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
- Dizziness and imbalance: In many instances, pregnancy-induced hearing loss can affect the inner ear (or, in some instances, whatever is affecting the inner ear is also causing hearing loss). Your hearing loss might be accompanied by dizziness and balance problems if you have an issue with your inner ear. Pregnancy-related hearing loss isn’t an exception.
- Headaches and migraines: You might also have an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you get on a regular basis.
These aren’t universal symptoms. You will most likely experience some symptoms and not others depending on the underlying cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss. Either way, it’s a good plan to contact your doctor if experience any of these hearing loss symptoms. That’s because these symptoms can in some cases be a sign of some rare but larger problems.
What causes pregnancy-related hearing loss?
Does being pregnant impact hearing? In some cases, possibly. But other parts of your body are impacted by pregnancy and those parts of your body can then affect your hearing.
So, what are the potential causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss? Well, the causes vary… but some of the most common include:
- An iron deficiency: Your health, and the health of your child, can both be affected in lots of ways by an iron deficiency. One of those impacts can sometimes be hearing loss in the person who is pregnant.
- Bone growth: The ability for sound to pass through your ears can be obstructed by a condition called otosclerosis which causes the tiny bones in your ear to grow too quickly. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes and other body changes that can cause this kind of bone growth. It should be noted that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and exactly how much it impacts hearing, is continuing.
- Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): When you become pregnant, your body is doing an exceptional amount of work. As a result, all kinds of changes are afoot, both in terms of your hormones and your circulatory system.
- High blood pressure: While you’re pregnant, high blood pressure can cause tinnitus and hearing loss. And this is, in part, 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. Throughout pregnancy, these problems should be tracked.
- Some of the typical things: Whether you’re pregnant or not, typical things like blockages, sinus infections, and ear infections can cause hearing loss.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss could be difficult to identify. Regularly consulting your doctor and keeping an eye on your symptoms is the key here.
How is this kind of hearing loss treated?
The root cause of this type of hearing loss will largely determine the course of treatment. The question that most individuals have is: will my hearing loss clear up? Once your pregnancy is over, your hearing should go back to normal, or maybe even sooner.
However, this is not always the situation, so it’s important to be aggressive when you observe symptoms. You might need additional 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 rapidly you receive treatment.
That’s why it’s so important to be certain that you report these symptoms to your doctor. You might then undergo 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 important to be certain 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 evaluation.