Of course, pregnancy is awesome and incredible. But it can also be sort of… uncomfortable, at least at times, and at least in terms of how it can make you feel. There’s the morning sickness, the changes to your body, the health challenges, and all kinds of weird side effects. 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 small disadvantage to add to the list: hearing loss.
Most people don’t instantly connect hearing loss with pregnancy. So it may be a surprise to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is rather common. It’s not a bad plan to watch out for these symptoms. Pregnancy-related hearing loss isn’t something you need to be worried about in most cases. Unfortunately, sometimes the cause is a more serious problem that could call for swift medical treatment. Will pregnancy-related hearing loss clear up? Well, the answer kind of depends on the root cause, and how fast you address it.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss symptoms
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t show up on many sitcoms or in many romantic comedies. 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 knowing what to look out for can be helpful.
After all, the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss go beyond turning the volume up on your television. The most common symptoms include the following:
- A plugged feeling in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears often accompanies pregnancy-related hearing loss.
- 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 circumstances, sound like your own heartbeat which is known as “pulsatile tinnitus”. Whether this tinnitus exists by itself or with hearing loss, it’s worth talking to your doctor about what you’re feeling.
- Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be impacted by pregnancy-induced hearing loss, or sometimes a pre-existing problem with the inner ear can be the source of that hearing loss. Your hearing loss might be accompanied by dizziness and balance problems if you have a problem with your inner ear. Pregnancy-related hearing loss isn’t an exception.
- Everything seems quieter: Of course, this symptom of hearing loss is the most obvious. But a condition called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” comes on all of a sudden and can be more obvious. You should report any sudden hearing loss during pregnancy to your physician as soon as you can. In order to prevent sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent, you may need emergency treatment.
- Headaches and migraines: You may also experience an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you have 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 idea to consult your doctor if experience any of these hearing loss symptoms. Because these symptoms may be an indication of a more serious problem.
The causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss
Does being pregnant impact hearing? Well, perhaps, in some cases. 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 likely causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss? Well, the causes vary… but some of the most prevalent include:
- Some of the typical things: Whether you’re pregnant or not, common things like blockages, sinus infections, and ear infections can cause hearing loss.
- 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 impacts for the pregnant woman.
- 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 blocks the ability of sound to pass through your ears. Pregnancy induces 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 just how much it affects hearing.
- Hormone and circulatory changes: Your body is performing an exceptional amount of work when you get pregnant. As a result, all kinds of changes are afoot, both in terms of your hormones and your circulatory system.
- High blood pressure: When you’re pregnant, high blood pressure can cause tinnitus and hearing loss. And this is, to some extent, why it’s really important to tell your doctor about your hearing loss. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other severe ailments. Throughout pregnancy, these problems should be monitored.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss just won’t be all that well understood. The essential thing will be to keep an eye on your symptoms and be in regular communication with your doctor.
How is this type of hearing loss managed?
The underlying cause of this kind of hearing loss will largely determine the course of treatment. The question that many individuals have is: will my hearing loss clear up? 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 observe because getting your hearing back isn’t always certain. You may require extra treatment if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, for example. Likewise, if you experience abrupt sensorineural hearing loss, the outcome will depend on how quickly you receive treatment.
For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your doctor is so essential. You might then undergo a comprehensive hearing screening or evaluation to help figure out your symptoms (or at least rule out any of the more severe possible impacts).
Protect your hearing
Safeguarding your hearing is something you should pay attention to especially when you’re pregnant. One of the best ways to do that is to stay in touch with us and with your care team. Schedule a hearing assessment with us as soon as possible.