Of course, pregnancy is awesome and wonderful. 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 difference in your body, the health challenges, and all kinds of strange side effects. Getting there can be somewhat of a process, but that doesn’t take anything away from the happiness of being a parent.
And now there’s another potential small drawback to add to the list: hearing loss.
Most people don’t immediately associate hearing loss with pregnancy. But pregnancy-associated hearing loss is actually more prevalent than most people might presume. This means that these symptoms are worth watching out for. Pregnancy-induced 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 require swift medical attention. Is hearing loss during pregnancy irreversible? Well, the answer sort of depends on the root cause, and how quickly you treat it.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss?
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t show up on many sitcoms or in many romantic comedies. It isn’t nearly as cinematic as something like morning sickness. This means that, generally, individuals may be less likely to anticipate pregnancy-related hearing loss. So, it might be useful to know what to look out for.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss goes beyond simply cranking the volume up on your devices, after all. Here are some of the most common:
- Headaches and migraines: You might also have an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you get regularly.
- Everything seems quieter: Sure, this is likely the most apparent sign of hearing loss. But a condition called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” happens abruptly and can be more obvious. Any type of sudden hearing loss during pregnancy should be conveyed to your healthcare team as soon as possible. You might require emergency treatment to prevent the sudden hearing loss from becoming irreversible.
- Tinnitus: Pregnancy-related hearing loss is frequently associated with tinnitus, or a ringing or buzzing in the ears. The rhythm and sound of your tinnitus symptoms can, in some instances, 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 cases, pregnancy-induced hearing loss can affect the inner ear (or, in some situations, whatever is impacting the inner ear is also causing hearing loss). Whenever your inner ear isn’t functioning properly, you may have issues with balance and dizziness with your hearing loss. Pregnancy-related hearing loss is no exception.
- A plugged feeling in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears frequently accompanies pregnancy-induced hearing loss.
None of these symptoms are fundamentally universal. 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 talk to your doctor if experience any of these hearing loss symptoms. That’s because these symptoms can sometimes be a sign of some rare but bigger issues.
What causes pregnancy-related hearing loss?
Does being pregnant affect hearing? In some cases, possibly. But other parts of your body are affected by pregnancy and those parts of your body can then impact your hearing.
So how can pregnancy-related hearing loss possibly be caused? Well, the causes vary… but some of the most prevalent include:
- High blood pressure: While you’re pregnant, high blood pressure can cause tinnitus and hearing loss. So telling your physician about your hearing loss symptoms is very important. Serious conditions, including preeclampsia, can trigger high blood pressure. Throughout pregnancy, these problems should be monitored.
- Hormone and circulatory changes: When you get pregnant, your body is doing an extreme amount of work. Your hormones and circulatory system are experiencing lots of changes, as a result.
- Bone growth: The ability for sound to pass through your ears can be blocked by an ailment called otosclerosis which causes the tiny bones in your ear to grow too quickly. Pregnancy induces hormonal changes and other body changes that can lead to this type of bone growth. Otoscerlosis research is still a continuing process, and scientists are still working out exactly how much it affects hearing.
- 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. One of those impacts can in some cases be hearing loss in the woman who is pregnant.
- 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 simply won’t be all that well understood. The important thing will be to keep an eye on your symptoms and be in frequent communication with your provider.
How do you treat this kind of hearing loss?
The root cause of this kind of hearing loss will largely dictate the course of treatment. The question that most people have is: will my hearing loss clear up? Once your pregnancy has ended, your hearing should return to normal, or possibly even sooner.
However, this is not always the default, so it’s important to be proactive when you observe symptoms. You may require extra treatment if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, for example. The outcome will also depend on how quickly you get treatment when it comes to sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your doctor is so important. You might then undergo a complete hearing screening or assessment to help figure out your symptoms (or at least eliminate any of the more dangerous possible impacts).
Protect your hearing
Safeguarding your hearing is something you need to watch out for particularly when you’re pregnant. One of the best ways to do that is to remain in touch with us and with your care team. Give us a call today to schedule a hearing evaluation.