It’s an amazing and incredible 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 are all kinds of peculiar side effects, like morning sickness, health challenges, and changes to your body. Getting there can be somewhat of a process, but that doesn’t detract from the happiness of being a parent.
And now we can add hearing loss to that list of disadvantages.
Pregnancy isn’t typically the first thing you think of when somebody is talking about hearing loss. But pregnancy-related hearing loss is actually more prevalent than most individuals may think. This means that these symptoms are worth watching out for. In some cases, the cause of pregnancy-associated hearing loss is innocuous and insignificant. Sadly, sometimes the cause is a more serious problem that could require 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.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy-induced hearing loss?
You generally won’t hear about pregnancy-related hearing loss in pop-culture. Things like morning sickness are a lot more cinematic. People usually don’t expect pregnancy-related hearing loss, because of this. So knowing what to look out for can be helpful.
After all, the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss go beyond cranking up the volume on your television. The most common symptoms include the following:
- Tinnitus: A ringing in your ears, called tinnitus, is frequently linked to pregnancy-induced hearing loss. In some cases, this tinnitus might even sound like or take on the rhythm of your own heartbeat (this is known as pulsatile tinnitus). You should speak with your physician about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
- Headaches and migraines: You may also have an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you have regularly.
- A plugged feeling in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears often accompanies pregnancy-induced hearing loss.
- Everything seems quieter: Certainly, this is likely the most obvious sign of hearing loss. But a condition known as “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” occurs suddenly and can be more noticeable. Any form of sudden hearing loss during pregnancy should be reported to your healthcare team as soon as possible. In order to prevent sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent, you may need emergency treatment.
- Dizziness and imbalance: In many cases, pregnancy-related hearing loss can affect the inner ear (or, in some cases, whatever is affecting the inner ear is also causing hearing loss). Whenever your inner ear is not working properly, you may have issues with balance and dizziness with your hearing loss. Pregnancy-related hearing loss isn’t an exception.
None of these symptoms are inevitably universal. You will probably experience some symptoms and not others depending on the underlying cause of your pregnancy-induced hearing loss. Either way, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor if experience any of these hearing loss symptoms. Because these symptoms may be an indication of a more serious problem.
What causes pregnancy-induced hearing loss?
Is hearing affected by pregnancy? Well, possibly, sometimes. But other parts of your body are impacted 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 common causes:
- Some of the typical things: If you get 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.
- Hormone and circulatory changes: Your body is doing an exceptional amount of work when you become pregnant. As a consequence, all kinds of changes are happening, both with respect to your hormones and your circulatory system.
- 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 effects for the pregnant woman.
- 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 may be caused by alterations in your hormones or other changes in your body. Otoscerlosis research is still an ongoing process, and scientists are still working out just how much it affects hearing.
- High blood pressure: Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the outcome of high blood pressure which can be caused by pregnancy. So telling your doctor about your hearing loss symptoms is really important. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other severe ailments. These are issues that need to be monitored carefully throughout your pregnancy.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss may be difficult to identify. Routinely consulting your doctor and keeping track of your symptoms is the key here.
How is this kind of hearing loss treated?
The underlying cause of this kind of hearing loss will largely dictate the course of treatment. The question that many individuals have is: will my hearing return to normal? In most situations, yes, your hearing will return to normal once you’re no longer pregnant, or possibly even before.
However, this isn’t always the default, so it’s essential to be proactive when you detect symptoms. For example, if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, you could require additional treatment. The outcome will also depend on how fast you get treatment in the case of abrupt sensorineural hearing loss.
For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your doctor is so essential. You might then go through a comprehensive hearing screening or evaluation 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 should pay attention to 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 assessment.