It’s an awesome and wonderful experience, having a child. But it can also be kind of… unpleasant, 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 sorts of strange side effects. Getting there can be a bit of a process, but that doesn’t detract from the joy of being a parent.
And now there’s another possible small disadvantage to add to the list: hearing loss.
Pregnancy isn’t typically 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 somewhat common. It’s not a bad idea to watch out for these symptoms. Pregnancy-associated hearing loss isn’t something you should be worried about in most cases. Unfortunately, sometimes the cause is a more serious issue that could call for swift medical treatment. Is hearing loss during pregnancy irreversible? Well, it could be, depending on how fast you address it and what the root cause is.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss symptoms
You generally won’t hear about pregnancy-related hearing loss in pop-culture. It isn’t nearly as cinematic as something like morning sickness. People typically don’t expect pregnancy-related hearing loss, because of this. So knowing what to look out for can be helpful.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss goes beyond simply cranking the volume up on your devices, after all. Here are some of the most common:
- Tinnitus: Pregnancy-related hearing loss is often associated with tinnitus, or a ringing or buzzing in the ears. In some situations, this tinnitus may even sound like or take on the rhythm of your own heartbeat (this is called pulsatile tinnitus). You should speak with your doctor about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
- A feeling of fullness in your ears: Pregnancy-induced hearing loss could in some cases be accompanied by a feeling of stuffiness or fullness in your ears.
- Headaches and migraines: Regular headaches and migraines can also be more consistent.
- Everything seems quieter: Certainly, this is probably the most evident indication of hearing loss. But a condition known as “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” happens suddenly and can be more obvious. Any type of abrupt hearing loss during pregnancy should be conveyed to your healthcare team as soon as possible. In order to prevent sudden hearing loss from becoming irreversible, you might require emergency treatment.
- Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be affected by pregnancy-induced hearing loss, or sometimes a pre-existing problem with the inner ear can be the cause of that hearing loss. Your hearing loss may be accompanied by dizziness and balance issues if you have a problem with your inner ear. Pregnancy-related hearing loss is no exception.
These aren’t universal symptoms. Depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-induced hearing loss, you may 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 a sign of some rare but larger problems.
What causes pregnancy-related hearing loss?
Does being pregnant impact hearing? Well, possibly, in some cases. But being pregnant might 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:
- Some of the typical things: Whether you’re pregnant or not, typical things like obstructions, sinus infections, and ear infections can trigger hearing loss.
- Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): When you become pregnant, your body is doing an exceptional amount of work. As a consequence, all sorts 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, to some extent, why it’s really important to tell your provider about your hearing loss. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other serious conditions. These are issues that need to be tracked carefully throughout your pregnancy.
- Bone growth: There’s a rare condition known as otosclerosis in which 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. It should be mentioned that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and just how much it impacts hearing, is ongoing.
- An iron deficiency: Your health, and the health of your child, can both be affected in a wide variety of ways by an iron deficiency. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those effects for the pregnant person.
Sometimes, the cause of your hearing loss may be difficult to identify. Regularly talking to your doctor and keeping track of your symptoms is the key here.
How do you treat this type of hearing loss?
Treatment of this kind of hearing loss will usually depend on the underlying cause. The question that most people have is: will my hearing loss clear up? Once your pregnancy is over, your hearing should return to normal, or maybe even sooner.
But it’s also important to get treatment for any symptoms you detect because getting your hearing back isn’t always a given. You might require extra treatment if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, for instance. Similarly, 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. The next step will most likely be a comprehensive hearing evaluation to eliminate any more severe conditions and try to diagnose the underlying cause.
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 exam with us as soon as possible.