It’s an amazing and wonderful experience, having a baby. But it can also be kind of… unpleasant, at least sometimes, and at least when it involves how it can make you feel. There’s the morning sickness, the difference in your body, the health hazards, and all kinds of strange side effects. Getting there can be somewhat of a process, but that doesn’t detract from the happiness of being a parent.
And now there’s another possible little disadvantage to add to the list: hearing loss.
Most people don’t instantly connect hearing loss with pregnancy. But pregnancy-induced hearing loss is actually more prevalent than most individuals might presume. This means that these symptoms are worth watching out for. Pregnancy-associated hearing loss isn’t something you need to be worried about in most cases. Sadly, sometimes the cause is a more serious problem that could require swift medical attention. Is hearing loss during pregnancy permanent? Well, it could be, depending on how fast you address it and what the root cause is.
Pregnancy-induced hearing loss symptoms
You generally won’t hear about pregnancy-related hearing loss in pop-culture. It isn’t nearly as cinematic as things like morning sickness. This means that, generally speaking, people may be less likely to anticipate pregnancy-related hearing loss. So knowing what to watch out for can be helpful.
After all, the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss go beyond turning the volume up on your television. Here are some of the most common:
- Everything seems quieter: Sure, this is likely the most evident indication of hearing loss. But a condition called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” happens all of a sudden and can be more apparent. Any type of abrupt hearing loss during pregnancy should be reported to your healthcare team as soon as possible. You might require emergency treatment to prevent the sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent.
- Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be impacted by pregnancy-induced hearing loss, or sometimes 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 may have issues with balance and dizziness accompanying your hearing loss. Pregnancy-related hearing loss isn’t an exception.
- 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 instances, sound like your own heartbeat which is called “pulsatile tinnitus”. You should talk to your physician about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
- A plugged feeling in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears often accompanies pregnancy-related hearing loss.
- Headaches and migraines: Regular headaches and migraines can also be more consistent.
None of these symptoms are fundamentally universal. You will probably experience some symptoms and not others depending on the underlying cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss. 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. That’s because these symptoms can in some cases be a sign of some rare but bigger issues.
What causes pregnancy-related hearing loss?
Is hearing impacted by pregnancy? Sometimes, possibly. But being pregnant may also affect other parts of your body that will then go on to impact your hearing.
So, what are the likely causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss? Well, the causes differ… but some of the most prevalent include:
- Bone growth: There’s a rare condition known as otosclerosis where the tiny bones in your ear start growing more quickly, and this accelerated growth prevents sound from passing through your ears. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes and other body changes that can lead to this type of bone growth. It should be mentioned that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and just how much it affects hearing, is ongoing.
- 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 physician about your hearing loss symptoms is very important. Serious conditions, including preeclampsia, can trigger high blood pressure. These are issues that need to be watched carefully throughout your pregnancy.
- Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): When you get pregnant, your body is doing an extreme amount of work. As a consequence, all kinds of changes are afoot, both in terms of your hormones and your circulatory system.
- An iron deficiency: Your health, and the health of your child, can both be impacted in a wide variety of ways by an iron deficiency. One of those impacts can in some cases be hearing loss in the person who is pregnant.
- Some of the typical things: If you get 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.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss could be difficult to determine. Regularly consulting your doctor and keeping track of your symptoms is the key here.
How is this kind of hearing loss managed?
The root cause of this kind of hearing loss will generally determine the course of treatment. The question that many people have is: will my hearing loss clear up? In most cases, yes, your hearing will go back to normal once your pregnancy is over, or possibly even before.
But it’s also essential to get treatment for any symptoms you notice because getting your hearing back isn’t always certain. You may require extra treatment if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, for example. The results will also depend on how rapidly you get treatment in the case of sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your doctor is so important. You might then go through a comprehensive hearing screening or evaluation to help get to the bottom of your symptoms (or at least rule out any of the more dangerous possible impacts).
Protect your hearing
Protecting 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.