Of course, pregnancy is amazing and incredible. But in terms of how it can make you feel, it can be fairly unpleasant, at least in some cases. There are all sorts of weird side effects, including morning sickness, health challenges, and changes to your body. Getting there can be a bit of a process, but that doesn’t take anything away from the happiness of being a parent.
And now we can add hearing loss to that list of disadvantages.
Most people don’t immediately connect hearing loss with pregnancy. But pregnancy-related hearing loss is actually more common than most people might presume. It’s not a bad plan to watch out for these symptoms. In some cases, the source of pregnancy-associated hearing loss is harmless and banal. In other cases, the cause is a serious concern and could call for immediate medical attention. Is hearing loss during pregnancy permanent? Well, the answer sort of depends on the underlying cause, and how fast you address it.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss?
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t show up on many sitcoms or in many romantic comedies. Things like morning sickness are much more cinematic. People generally don’t expect pregnancy-related hearing loss, because of this. So knowing what to watch out for can be helpful.
After all, the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss are about more than cranking the volume up on your television. The most prevalent symptoms include the following:
- Everything seems quieter: Of course, this symptom of hearing loss is the most apparent. But if it comes on all of a sudden, it’s something called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. Any type of abrupt hearing loss during pregnancy should be conveyed to your healthcare team as soon as you can. You may need emergency treatment to stop the sudden hearing loss from becoming irreversible.
- Dizziness and imbalance: In many cases, pregnancy-related hearing loss can affect the inner ear (or, in some cases, whatever is impacting the inner ear is also causing hearing loss). Whenever your inner ear isn’t working correctly, you may experience issues with balance and dizziness with your hearing loss. And that also goes for pregnancy-related hearing loss.
- A feeling of fullness in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears often accompanies pregnancy-induced hearing loss.
- Tinnitus: A ringing in your ears, known as tinnitus, is often associated with pregnancy-induced hearing loss. In some circumstances, this tinnitus might 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 talking to your care team about what you’re feeling.
- Headaches and migraines: You may also experience an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you have regularly.
These aren’t universal symptoms. Depending on the underlying cause of your pregnancy-induced hearing loss, you may experience some symptoms but maybe not others. In any event, if you experience hearing loss or any of the associated symptoms while you are pregnant, it’s generally a good plan to talk to your provider. Because these symptoms could be an indication of a more serious issue.
The causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss
Does being pregnant impact hearing? Well, possibly, sometimes. 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-induced hearing loss? Well, the causes vary… but some of the most prevalent include:
- High blood pressure: Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the outcome of high blood pressure which can be brought about by pregnancy. And this is, in part, why it’s extremely important to tell your provider about your hearing loss. Serious conditions, including preeclampsia, can trigger high blood pressure. These are issues that should be tracked carefully throughout your pregnancy.
- 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 going through lots of changes, as a result.
- An iron deficiency: An iron deficiency while you’re pregnant can have a wide variety of repercussions for your health and your baby’s health. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those impacts for the pregnant person.
- Some of the typical things: If you get an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any type of obstruction in your ear (like earwax), this can cause hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
- Bone growth: There’s a rare condition called otosclerosis where the tiny bones in your ear begin growing more quickly, and this accelerated growth prevents sound from passing through your ears. In pregnant women, this faster bone growth might be caused by changes in your hormones or other changes in your body. It should be noted that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and exactly how much it impacts hearing, is ongoing.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss just won’t be all that well understood. The important thing will be to keep an eye on your symptoms and be in frequent communication with your provider.
How do you treat this kind of hearing loss?
The root cause of this type of hearing loss will largely dictate the course of treatment. The question that most people have is: will my hearing return to normal? In most situations, yes, your hearing will return to normal once your pregnancy is over, or possibly even before.
But it’s also important to get treatment for any symptoms you detect because getting your hearing back isn’t always a given. For example, if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, you might require additional treatment. Likewise, if you experience abrupt sensorineural hearing loss, the results will depend on how rapidly you receive treatment.
For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your doctor is so essential. The next step will most likely be a thorough hearing assessment to rule out any more serious conditions and try to diagnose the inherent cause.
Protect your hearing
Even when you’re pregnant, while you’re juggling so many other things, it’s essential to be sure you watch out for and protect your hearing. Getting regular evaluations with us is one of the best ways to do that. Give us a call today to set up a hearing assessment.