Sure, pregnancy is amazing and incredible. But it can also be sort of… uncomfortable, at least at times, and at least in terms of how it can make you feel. There’s the morning sickness, the difference in your body, the health challenges, and all kinds of strange side effects. Getting there can be a bit of a process, but that doesn’t detract from the happiness of being a parent.
And now there’s another possible little drawback to add to the list: hearing loss.
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 somewhat common. It’s not a bad idea to watch out for these symptoms. In some cases, the cause of pregnancy-related hearing loss is harmless and insignificant. Sadly, sometimes the cause is a more serious problem that could require swift medical treatment. Is hearing loss during pregnancy permanent? Well, the answer kind of depends on the root cause, and how fast you address it.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss?
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t make an appearance on a lot of sitcoms or in very many romantic comedies. Things like morning sickness are a lot more cinematic. This means that, generally, people might be less likely to expect pregnancy-related hearing loss. So knowing what to look out for can be helpful.
After all, the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss are about more than turning the volume up on your television. The most common symptoms include the following:
- Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be impacted by pregnancy-related hearing loss, or in some cases a pre-existing issue with the inner ear can be the cause of that hearing loss. Whenever your inner ear isn’t working properly, you might have problems with balance and dizziness with your hearing loss. And that also applies to pregnancy-related hearing loss.
- Tinnitus: A ringing in your ears, called tinnitus, is frequently linked to pregnancy-related hearing loss. The rhythm and sound of your tinnitus symptoms can, in some cases, sound like your own heartbeat which is known as “pulsatile tinnitus”. You should consult your physician about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
- You feel a fullness in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears often accompanies pregnancy-induced hearing loss.
- Headaches and migraines: You might also have an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you get regularly.
- Everything seems quieter: Of course, this symptom of hearing loss is the most apparent. But if it occurs all of a sudden, it’s something known as “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. You need to report any abrupt hearing loss during pregnancy to your physician as soon as you can. You might need emergency treatment to prevent the sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent.
None of these symptoms are fundamentally universal. You will most likely experience some symptoms and not others depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-induced hearing loss. In any event, if you experience hearing loss or any of the associated symptoms while you are pregnant, it’s usually a good plan to talk to your provider. That’s because these symptoms can sometimes be a sign of some rare but bigger issues.
What causes pregnancy-related hearing loss?
Does being pregnant impact hearing? In some cases, possibly. 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 some of the most prevalent causes:
- An iron deficiency: Your health, and the health of your baby, 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.
- 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 fast. Pregnancy produces hormonal changes and other body changes that can cause this kind of bone growth. It should be noted that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and just how much it impacts hearing, is continuing.
- 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 cause hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
- High blood pressure: While you are pregnant, high blood pressure can trigger tinnitus and hearing loss. So telling your physician about your hearing loss symptoms is very important. Serious conditions, including preeclampsia, can cause high blood pressure. These are issues that need to be tracked carefully throughout your pregnancy.
- Hormone and circulatory changes: When you get pregnant, your body is doing an exceptional amount of work. As a consequence, all kinds of changes are afoot, both with respect to your hormones and your circulatory system.
In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss may be difficult to identify. The essential thing will be to be mindful of your symptoms and be in frequent communication with your doctor.
How is this kind of hearing loss managed?
The root cause of this type of hearing loss will largely determine the course of treatment. The question that many individuals have is: will my hearing return to normal? Once your pregnancy has ended, your hearing should go back to normal, or maybe even sooner.
But it’s also important to get treatment for any symptoms you detect because getting your hearing back isn’t always a given. For instance, if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, you could require additional treatment. The outcome will also depend on how rapidly you get treatment in the case of sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure you report these symptoms to your provider. The next step will probably be a complete hearing assessment to eliminate any more severe conditions and try to diagnose the underlying cause.
Protect your hearing
Even when you’re pregnant, while you’re juggling so many other things, it’s essential to make sure you pay attention to and safeguard your hearing. Getting regular evaluations with us is one of the best ways to do that. Give us a call today to schedule a hearing assessment.