Of course, pregnancy is awesome and incredible. But when it comes to how it can make you feel, it can be fairly uncomfortable, at least sometimes. There are all kinds of peculiar side effects, including morning sickness, health challenges, and changes to your body. 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 drawbacks.
Pregnancy isn’t normally 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 rather prevalent. This means that these symptoms are worth keeping on your radar. Pregnancy-induced hearing loss isn’t something you should be concerned about in most cases. In other cases, the cause is a serious issue and might require immediate medical attention. Is hearing loss during pregnancy irreversible? Well, the answer kind of depends on the underlying cause, and how rapidly you treat it.
Pregnancy-induced hearing loss symptoms
Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t make an appearance on a lot of sitcoms or in many romantic comedies. It’s not nearly as cinematic as things like morning sickness. People typically don’t expect pregnancy-related hearing loss, because of this. So knowing what to watch out for can be helpful.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss goes beyond just cranking the volume up on your devices, after all. Here are a few of the most common:
- A feeling of fullness in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears frequently accompanies pregnancy-induced hearing loss.
- Dizziness and imbalance: In many cases, pregnancy-induced hearing loss can impact the inner ear (or, in some situations, whatever is impacting the inner ear is also causing hearing loss). Whenever your inner ear is not working correctly, you may experience problems with balance and dizziness accompanying your hearing loss. Pregnancy-related hearing loss isn’t an exception.
- Tinnitus: A ringing in your ears, called tinnitus, is often linked to pregnancy-induced hearing loss. In some cases, this tinnitus may even sound like or take on the rhythm of your own heartbeat (this is known as pulsatile tinnitus). Whether this tinnitus exists on its own or with hearing loss, it’s worth talking to your doctor about what you’re feeling.
- Everything seems quieter: Of course, this indication of hearing loss is the most evident. But if it comes on suddenly, it’s something called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. Any form of abrupt hearing loss during pregnancy should be reported to your healthcare team as soon as possible. You may need emergency treatment to stop the sudden hearing loss from becoming irreversible.
- Headaches and migraines: You may also experience an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you get regularly.
None of these symptoms are inevitably universal. Depending on the underlying cause of your pregnancy-induced hearing loss, you might 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 idea to talk to your doctor. Because these symptoms could be an indication of a more serious concern.
What causes pregnancy-induced 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 impact your hearing.
So how can pregnancy-induced hearing loss possibly be caused? Here are some of the most common causes:
- An iron deficiency: Your health, and the health of your child, can both be impacted in a wide variety of ways by an iron deficiency. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those impacts for the pregnant woman.
- Some of the typical things: Whether you’re pregnant or not, common things like obstructions, sinus infections, and ear infections can cause hearing loss.
- High blood pressure: While you’re pregnant, high blood pressure can cause tinnitus and hearing loss. And this is, in part, why it’s very important to tell your doctor about your hearing loss. Serious ailments, including preeclampsia, can cause high blood pressure. These are issues that need to be watched carefully throughout your pregnancy.
- Bone growth: There’s a rare affliction called otosclerosis where the tiny bones in your ear begin growing more rapidly, and this accelerated growth blocks the ability of sound to pass through your ears. Pregnancy induces hormonal changes and other body changes that can lead to this type of bone growth. It should be mentioned that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and just how much it affects hearing, is ongoing.
- Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): Your body is doing an extraordinary amount of work when you become pregnant. As a consequence, all sorts of changes are happening, both with respect to your hormones and your circulatory system.
In some instances, the cause of your hearing loss just won’t be all that well understood. Routinely consulting your doctor and keeping an eye on your symptoms is the key here.
How is this type of hearing loss managed?
The underlying cause of this kind of hearing loss will generally determine the course of treatment. Will my hearing go back to normal? This is the most common question people will have. In most cases, yes, your hearing will go back to normal once you’re no longer pregnant, or possibly even before.
But it’s also important to get treatment for any symptoms you observe because getting your hearing back isn’t always certain. For instance, if bone growth is obstructing your ear canal, you may require additional treatment. Likewise, if you experience abrupt sensorineural hearing loss, the outcome will depend on how fast you receive treatment.
For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your doctor is so important. The next step will most likely be a thorough hearing assessment to eliminate any more serious conditions and try to diagnose the root cause.
Protect your hearing
Even when you’re pregnant, while you’re juggling so many other things, it’s essential to be certain you watch out for and safeguard your hearing. One of the best ways to do that is to remain in touch with us and with your care team. Give us a call today to set up a hearing assessment.