It’s an amazing and wonderful experience, having a child. But it can also be kind of… uncomfortable, 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 kinds of weird side effects. None of this takes away from the delight of being a parent… but it’s a whole undertaking to get there.
And now there’s another potential small disadvantage to add to the list: hearing loss.
Pregnancy isn’t usually the first thing you think of when someone is talking about hearing loss. But pregnancy-related hearing loss is actually more common than most individuals may presume. It’s not a bad idea to watch out for these symptoms. Pregnancy-induced hearing loss isn’t something you should be concerned about in most cases. Sadly, sometimes the cause is a more serious problem that could call for swift medical treatment. Is hearing loss during pregnancy irreversible? Well, the answer kind of depends on the underlying cause, and how rapidly you treat it.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss?
You generally won’t hear about pregnancy-induced hearing loss in pop-culture. It’s not nearly as cinematic as something like morning sickness. 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 are about more than cranking up the volume on your television. The most common symptoms include the following:
- A feeling of fullness in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears often accompanies pregnancy-induced hearing loss.
- Everything seems quieter: Sure, this is likely the most evident sign of hearing loss. But if it occurs abruptly, 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 you can. In order to stop sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent, you may need emergency treatment.
- Tinnitus: Pregnancy-related hearing loss is frequently linked to tinnitus, or a ringing or buzzing in the ears. In some situations, this tinnitus might 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.
- Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be impacted by pregnancy-induced hearing loss, or in some cases a pre-existing problem with the inner ear can be the source of that hearing loss. Whenever your inner ear isn’t functioning correctly, you may have problems with balance and dizziness with your hearing loss. Pregnancy-related hearing loss is no exception.
- Headaches and migraines: Regular headaches and migraines can also be more consistent.
These aren’t universal symptoms. Depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss, you might experience some symptoms but maybe not others. Either way, it’s a good plan to consult your doctor if experience any of these hearing loss symptoms. That’s because these symptoms can sometimes be a sign of some rare but larger issues.
The causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss
Is hearing affected by pregnancy? Well, possibly, sometimes. But being pregnant may also impact other parts of your body that will then go on to affect your hearing.
So, what are the likely causes of pregnancy-induced hearing loss? Here are some of the most prevalent causes:
- Bone growth: The ability for sound to pass through your ears can be obstructed by a condition called otosclerosis which causes the tiny bones in your ear to grow too quickly. In pregnant individuals, this faster bone growth might be caused by changes in your hormones or other changes in your body. It should be mentioned that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and just how much it impacts hearing, is continuing.
- Some of the typical things: Whether you’re pregnant or not, common things like blockages, sinus infections, and ear infections can cause hearing loss.
- High blood pressure: While you’re pregnant, high blood pressure can trigger tinnitus and hearing loss. So telling your physician about your hearing loss symptoms is very important. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other serious ailments. Throughout pregnancy, these issues should be tracked.
- 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. One of those impacts can sometimes be hearing loss in the person who is pregnant.
- Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): Your body is doing an extraordinary amount of work when you become pregnant. Your hormones and circulatory system are experiencing lots of changes, as a result.
Sometimes, the cause of your hearing loss may be hard to determine. Routinely talking to your physician and keeping an eye on your symptoms is the key here.
How do you treat this kind of hearing loss?
Treatment of this form of hearing loss will likely 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 go back 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 aggressive when you notice symptoms. For example, if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, you could require additional treatment. The outcome will also depend on how rapidly you get treatment when it comes to abrupt sensorineural hearing loss.
For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your physician is so essential. The next step will most likely be a comprehensive hearing evaluation to rule out any more severe conditions and try to diagnose the root cause.
Protect your hearing
Protecting your hearing is something you should watch out for particularly when you’re pregnant. Getting regular evaluations with us is one of the best ways to do that. Give us a call today to set up a hearing evaluation.