It’s an awesome and incredible experience, having a baby. But it can also be kind of… uncomfortable, at least sometimes, and at least when it involves 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 detracts from the joy of being a parent… but it’s a whole process to get there.
And now we can add hearing loss to that list of drawbacks.
Most individuals don’t instantly connect hearing loss with pregnancy. So it may be surprising to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is fairly prevalent. It’s not a bad idea to keep an eye out for these symptoms. In some cases, the source of pregnancy-induced hearing loss is harmless and banal. Sadly, sometimes the cause is a more serious issue that could call for swift medical treatment. Is hearing loss during pregnancy irreversible? Well, the answer sort of depends on the underlying cause, and how rapidly you treat it.
Pregnancy-induced hearing loss symptoms
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t appear on a lot of sitcoms or in many romantic comedies. It isn’t nearly as cinematic as something like morning sickness. People typically don’t expect pregnancy-related hearing loss, because of this. So, it may be helpful to know what to look out for.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss is about more than simply turning the volume up on your devices, after all. Here are some of the most common:
- You feel plugged in your ears: Pregnancy-related hearing loss might sometimes be accompanied by a feeling of being plugged or fullness in your ears.
- Tinnitus: A ringing in your ears, called tinnitus, is frequently associated with pregnancy-related hearing loss. The rhythm and sound of your tinnitus symptoms can, in some circumstances, sound like your own heartbeat which is called “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: In many instances, pregnancy-induced hearing loss can affect the inner ear (or, in some situations, whatever is affecting the inner ear is also causing hearing loss). Whenever your inner ear isn’t working properly, you may experience issues with balance and dizziness with your hearing loss. And that also goes for pregnancy-induced hearing loss.
- Everything seems quieter: Of course, this symptom of hearing loss is the most obvious. But if it happens all of a sudden, it’s something known as “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. Any form of abrupt hearing loss during pregnancy should be conveyed to your healthcare team as soon as possible. In order to stop sudden hearing loss from becoming irreversible, you may require emergency treatment.
- Headaches and migraines: You may also have an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you have regularly.
None of these symptoms are fundamentally universal. Depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-induced hearing loss, you may experience some symptoms but maybe not others. In any case, if you experience hearing loss or any of the associated symptoms while you are pregnant, it’s typically a good plan to talk to your provider. Because these symptoms might be an indication of a more serious problem.
The causes of pregnancy-induced hearing loss
Is hearing impacted by pregnancy? Sometimes, maybe. 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? Here are some of the most prevalent causes:
- 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 person.
- High blood pressure: While you’re pregnant, high blood pressure can trigger tinnitus and hearing loss. And this is, to some extent, why it’s very important to tell your provider about your hearing loss. Serious conditions, including preeclampsia, can trigger high blood pressure. Throughout pregnancy, these issues should be tracked.
- Some of the typical things: If you develop an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any kind of blockage in your ear (like earwax), this can cause hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
- Bone growth: There’s a rare condition known as otosclerosis in which the tiny bones in your ear start growing more rapidly, and this accelerated growth prevents sound from passing through your ears. In pregnant women, this quicker bone growth may be caused by alterations in your hormones or other changes in your body. It should be mentioned that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and exactly how much it impacts hearing, is ongoing.
- Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): Your body is doing an extraordinary amount of work when you get pregnant. Your hormones and circulatory system are experiencing lots of changes, as a result.
In some situations, the cause of your hearing loss simply won’t be all that well understood. Regularly talking to your physician and keeping an eye on your symptoms is the key here.
How do you treat this type of hearing loss?
Treatment of this type of hearing loss will usually depend on the root cause. Will my hearing go back to normal? This is the most common question individuals will have. In most cases, yes, your hearing will return to normal once your pregnancy is over, or possibly even before.
However, this is not always the default, so it’s important to be aggressive when you observe symptoms. For example, if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, you may require additional treatment. Similarly, if you experience sudden sensorineural hearing loss, the outcome will depend on how fast you receive treatment.
That’s why it’s so essential to be sure you report these symptoms to your provider. The next step will most likely be a thorough hearing assessment to rule out any more serious conditions and try to diagnose the underlying cause.
Protect your hearing
Safeguarding your hearing is something you need to pay attention to especially when you’re pregnant. One of the best ways to do that is to remain in touch with us and with your care team. Schedule a hearing examination with us as soon as possible.