It’s an amazing and wonderful experience, having a baby. But it can also be kind of… uncomfortable, at least sometimes, and at least in terms of how it can make you feel. There are all kinds 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 process to get there.
And now there’s another potential little drawback to add to the list: hearing loss.
Pregnancy isn’t normally the first thing you think of when someone is talking about hearing loss. So it might be a surprise to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is fairly prevalent. It’s not a bad plan to keep an eye out for these symptoms. Pregnancy-associated 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. Is hearing loss during pregnancy permanent? Well, the answer sort of depends on the root cause, and how fast you treat it.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss?
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t make an appearance on many sitcoms or in 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 useful to know what to look out for.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss is about more than just turning the volume up on your devices, after all. Here are some of the most common:
- 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 cases, sound like your own heartbeat which is known as “pulsatile tinnitus”. You should consult your doctor about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
- Dizziness and imbalance: In many cases, pregnancy-induced hearing loss can affect the inner ear (or, in some instances, whatever is impacting the inner ear is also causing hearing loss). Whenever your inner ear isn’t working properly, you might have issues with balance and dizziness accompanying your hearing loss. And that also goes for pregnancy-induced hearing loss.
- Headaches and migraines: You might also experience an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you get regularly.
- Everything seems quieter: Sure, this is probably the most obvious sign of hearing loss. But a condition known as “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” occurs all of a sudden and can be more apparent. You need to report any abrupt hearing loss during pregnancy to your provider as soon as possible. You might need emergency treatment to stop the sudden hearing loss from becoming irreversible.
- You feel a fullness in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears often accompanies pregnancy-induced hearing loss.
These aren’t universal symptoms. Depending on the underlying cause of your pregnancy-induced hearing loss, you may experience some symptoms but 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 problem.
The causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss
Is hearing affected by pregnancy? Well, possibly, in some cases. 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-induced hearing loss? Well, the causes vary… but some of the most prevalent include:
- Some of the typical things: If you develop an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any type of obstruction in your ear (such as earwax), this can cause hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
- Bone growth: The ability for sound to pass through your ears can be obstructed by a disorder called otosclerosis which causes the tiny bones in your ear to grow too quickly. In pregnant women, this quicker bone growth might be caused by changes 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 consequences for your health and your baby’s health. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those impacts for the pregnant person.
- Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): When you become pregnant, your body is doing an extreme amount of work. As a consequence, all kinds of changes are afoot, both with respect to your hormones and your circulatory system.
- High blood pressure: Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the outcome of high blood pressure which can be caused by pregnancy. And this is, to some extent, why it’s very important to tell your provider about your hearing loss. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other severe conditions. These are problems that should be watched carefully throughout your pregnancy.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss simply 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 provider.
How do you manage this kind of hearing loss?
The root cause of this kind of hearing loss will largely determine the course of treatment. The question that many individuals have is: will my hearing return to normal? Once your pregnancy has ended, your hearing should return to normal, or maybe even sooner.
But it’s also essential to get treatment for any symptoms you observe because getting your hearing back isn’t always certain. You may need additional treatment if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, for example. The results will also depend on how rapidly you get treatment in the case of sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
That’s why it’s so essential to be sure you report these symptoms to your provider. You may then go through 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
Safeguarding your hearing is something you need to watch out for especially when you’re pregnant. Getting regular evaluations with us is one of the best ways to do that. Schedule a hearing assessment with us right away.