It’s an awesome and incredible experience, having a baby. But it can also be sort of… unpleasant, 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 hazards, and all sorts of strange side effects. Getting there can be somewhat of a process, but that doesn’t take anything away from the joy of being a parent.
And now we can add hearing loss to that list of disadvantages.
Most individuals don’t immediately connect hearing loss with pregnancy. So it might be surprising to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is fairly prevalent. This means that these symptoms are worth keeping on your radar. In some cases, the cause of pregnancy-related hearing loss is innocuous and banal. In other cases, the cause is a serious concern and may call for immediate medical attention. Will pregnancy-related hearing loss go away? 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?
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t appear on a lot of sitcoms or in very many romantic comedies. Things like morning sickness are much more cinematic. This means that, generally speaking, people might be less likely to expect pregnancy-related hearing loss. So, it might be useful to know what to watch out for.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss goes beyond just cranking the volume up on your devices, after all. The most common symptoms include the following:
- Everything seems quieter: Sure, this is likely the most obvious sign of hearing loss. But if it comes on suddenly, it’s something known as “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. You should convey any abrupt hearing loss during pregnancy to your doctor as soon as possible. You may require emergency treatment to stop the sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent.
- Tinnitus: Pregnancy-related hearing loss is often associated with 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 speak with your doctor about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
- Headaches and migraines: Regular headaches and migraines can also be more consistent.
- A feeling of fullness in your ears: Pregnancy-related hearing loss could in some cases be accompanied by a feeling of stuffiness or fullness in your ears.
- Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be affected by pregnancy-induced hearing loss, or in some cases a pre-existing issue with the inner ear can be the source of that hearing loss. Your hearing loss might be accompanied by dizziness and balance problems if you have an issue with your inner ear. Pregnancy-related hearing loss isn’t an exception.
None of these symptoms are necessarily universal. Depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-induced hearing loss, you might experience some symptoms but not others. In any case, if you experience hearing loss or any of the associated symptoms while you are pregnant, it’s typically a good idea to talk to your provider. That’s because these symptoms can sometimes be a sign of some rare but bigger problems.
The causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss
Is hearing affected by pregnancy? Well, maybe, sometimes. But being pregnant might also affect 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? Well, the causes differ… but some of the most common include:
- Hormone and circulatory changes: Your body is doing an exceptional amount of work when you get pregnant. 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 get an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any type of obstruction in your ear (like earwax), this can trigger hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
- Bone growth: The ability for sound to pass through your ears can be blocked by an ailment called otosclerosis which causes the tiny bones in your ear to grow too fast. 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 a continuing process, and scientists are still working out exactly how much it affects hearing.
- An iron deficiency: Your health, and the health of your child, can both be affected in lots of ways by an iron deficiency. One of those impacts can sometimes be hearing loss in the person who is pregnant.
- 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, to some extent, why it’s very important to tell your doctor about your hearing loss. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other serious conditions. Throughout pregnancy, these problems should be monitored.
Sometimes, the cause of your hearing loss could be difficult to identify. The essential thing will be to keep an eye on your symptoms and be in regular communication with your provider.
How is this type of hearing loss treated?
The root cause of this kind of hearing loss will generally determine the course of treatment. The question that most people have is: will my hearing loss clear up? In most cases, yes, your hearing will return 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 a given. You might need extra treatment if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, for instance. Likewise, if you suffer from sudden sensorineural hearing loss, the results will depend on how fast you receive treatment.
For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your physician is so essential. The next step will most likely be a thorough hearing assessment to rule out any more severe conditions and try to diagnose the underlying cause.
Protect your hearing
Protecting your hearing is something you should pay attention to especially when you’re pregnant. One of the best ways to do that is to remain in touch with us and with your care team. Schedule a hearing assessment with us as soon as possible.