It’s an amazing and wonderful experience, having a child. But in terms of how it can make you feel, it can be rather unpleasant, at least in some cases. There’s the morning sickness, the difference in your body, the health hazards, and all kinds of strange side effects. None of this takes away 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 disadvantages.
Pregnancy isn’t usually the first thing you think of when someone is talking about hearing loss. So it might be a surprise to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is fairly prevalent. This means that these symptoms are worth watching out for. In some cases, the cause of pregnancy-related hearing loss is innocuous and insignificant. In other cases, the cause is a serious concern and could require immediate medical attention. Is hearing loss during pregnancy irreversible? Well, it could be, depending on how rapidly you address it and what the underlying cause is.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss symptoms
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t show up on a lot of sitcoms or in very many romantic comedies. Things like morning sickness are much 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 prevalent symptoms include the following:
- 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 accompanying your hearing loss. Pregnancy-related hearing loss is no exception.
- A feeling of fullness in your ears: Pregnancy-related hearing loss could sometimes be accompanied by a feeling of stuffiness or fullness in your ears.
- Headaches and migraines: You may also experience an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you have regularly.
- Everything seems quieter: Sure, this is likely the most obvious sign of hearing loss. But if it happens all of a sudden, it’s something known as “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. You need to report any sudden hearing loss during pregnancy to your doctor as soon as possible. You may need emergency treatment to prevent the sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent.
- Tinnitus: A ringing in your ears, known as tinnitus, is often associated with pregnancy-related hearing loss. In some cases, this tinnitus may even sound like or take on the rhythm of your own heartbeat (this is called pulsatile tinnitus). Whether this tinnitus exists by itself or with hearing loss, it’s worth consulting your doctor about what you’re feeling.
None of these symptoms are necessarily universal. You will probably experience some symptoms and not others depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss. Either way, it’s a good idea to contact 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 problems.
The causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss
Does being pregnant impact hearing? Well, maybe, in some cases. But other parts of your body are impacted by pregnancy and those parts of your body can then affect your hearing.
So, what are the potential causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss? Here are several of the most common causes:
- High blood pressure: When you are pregnant, high blood pressure can cause tinnitus and hearing loss. So telling your doctor about your hearing loss symptoms is very important. Serious ailments, including preeclampsia, can cause high blood pressure. Throughout pregnancy, these issues should be monitored.
- Bone growth: There’s a rare affliction known as otosclerosis where the tiny bones in your ear begin growing more quickly, and this accelerated growth blocks the ability of sound to pass through your ears. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes and other body changes that can cause this type of bone growth. Otoscerlosis research is still an ongoing process, and scientists are still figuring out exactly how much it affects hearing.
- Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): When you become pregnant, your body is doing an exceptional amount of work. As a result, all sorts of changes are afoot, both with respect to your hormones and your circulatory system.
- Some of the typical things: If you develop an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any kind of blockage in your ear (such as earwax), this can trigger hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
- 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 person who is pregnant.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss could be hard to identify. Routinely talking to your doctor and keeping track of your symptoms is the key here.
How is this form of hearing loss managed?
Treatment of this type of hearing loss will likely depend on the underlying cause. The question that most people have is: will my hearing loss clear up? 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 situation, so it’s important to be aggressive when you observe symptoms. For instance, if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, you could require additional treatment. Similarly, if you suffer from abrupt sensorineural hearing loss, the outcome will depend on how fast you receive treatment.
That’s why it’s so important to be certain that you report these symptoms to your provider. The next step will most likely be a complete hearing assessment to eliminate any more serious conditions and try to diagnose the inherent cause.
Protect your hearing
Protecting your hearing is something you need to watch out for particularly when you’re pregnant. Getting regular evaluations with us is one of the best ways to do that. Schedule a hearing assessment with us as soon as possible.