It’s an awesome and incredible experience, having a baby. But it can also be sort of… uncomfortable, at least at times, and at least when it involves how it can make you feel. There are all sorts of weird side effects, including morning sickness, health challenges, and changes to your body. None of this takes away from the joy of being a parent… but it’s a whole undertaking to get there.
And now there’s another possible little disadvantage to add to the list: hearing loss.
Most people don’t immediately associate hearing loss with pregnancy. But pregnancy-induced hearing loss is actually more common than most people might presume. This means that these symptoms are worth keeping on your radar. Pregnancy-induced hearing loss isn’t something you should be worried about in most cases. Sadly, sometimes the cause is a more serious problem that could require swift medical treatment. Is hearing loss during pregnancy permanent? Well, the answer sort of depends on the root cause, and how rapidly you address it.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss?
You generally won’t hear about pregnancy-related hearing loss in pop-culture. It’s not nearly as cinematic as something like morning sickness. This means that, generally, people might be less likely to anticipate pregnancy-related hearing loss. So knowing what to look out for can be helpful.
After all, the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss are about more than cranking up the volume on your television. The most common symptoms include the following:
- Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be affected by pregnancy-induced hearing loss, or in some cases a pre-existing issue with the inner ear can be the cause of that hearing loss. Whenever your inner ear is not functioning properly, you might have problems with balance and dizziness with your hearing loss. Pregnancy-related hearing loss is no exception.
- You feel plugged in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears often accompanies pregnancy-related hearing loss.
- Headaches and migraines: You may also have an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you have on a regular basis.
- Everything seems quieter: Of course, this symptom of hearing loss is the most evident. But a condition known as “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” happens abruptly and can be more apparent. Any form of abrupt hearing loss during pregnancy should be reported to your healthcare team as soon as you can. You might need emergency treatment to stop the sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent.
- Tinnitus: Pregnancy-related hearing loss is frequently linked to tinnitus, or a ringing or buzzing in the ears. The rhythm and sound of your tinnitus symptoms can, in some cases, sound like your own heartbeat which is known as “pulsatile tinnitus”. You should talk to your physician about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
These aren’t universal symptoms. Depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss, you might experience some symptoms but maybe not others. In any event, if you experience hearing loss or any of the related symptoms while you are pregnant, it’s generally a good plan to talk to your provider. Because these symptoms could be an indication of a more serious issue.
The causes of pregnancy-induced hearing loss
Is hearing affected by pregnancy? Well, possibly, in some cases. But being pregnant may also affect other parts of your body that will then go on to impact your hearing.
So how can pregnancy-induced hearing loss possibly be caused? Here are some of the most prevalent causes:
- Hormone and circulatory changes: When you get pregnant, your body is doing an extreme amount of work. As a result, all sorts of changes are afoot, both with respect to your hormones and your circulatory system.
- Some of the typical things: Whether you’re pregnant or not, typical things like obstructions, sinus infections, and ear infections can trigger hearing loss.
- Bone growth: There’s a rare affliction known as otosclerosis where the tiny bones in your ear begin growing more quickly, and this accelerated growth prevents sound from passing through your ears. In pregnant women, this quicker bone growth might be caused by alterations in your hormones or other changes in your body. It should be mentioned that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and just how much it impacts hearing, is ongoing.
- An iron deficiency: An iron deficiency while you’re pregnant can have a wide variety of repercussions for your health and your child’s health. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those impacts for the pregnant woman.
- High blood pressure: Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the outcome of high blood pressure which can be brought about by pregnancy. So telling your doctor about your hearing loss symptoms is very important. Serious ailments, including preeclampsia, can trigger high blood pressure. These are issues that need to be monitored carefully throughout your pregnancy.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss may be difficult to identify. The important thing will be to keep an eye on your symptoms and be in regular communication with your provider.
How is this form of hearing loss managed?
The root cause of this form of hearing loss will largely dictate the course of treatment. The question that many individuals have is: will my hearing return to normal? In most instances, 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 might need extra treatment if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, for instance. Likewise, if you experience sudden sensorineural hearing loss, the results will depend on how rapidly you receive treatment.
For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your physician is so essential. You may then go through 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 essential to be certain you watch out for and protect your hearing. One of the best ways to do that is to remain in touch with us and with your care team. Schedule a hearing exam with us right away.