Comprehending Hearing Loss During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman who's suffering from sudden hearing loss having her blood pressure checked

It’s an awesome and incredible experience, having a baby. But in terms of how it can make you feel, it can be rather unpleasant, at least in some cases. There are all sorts of strange side effects, including morning sickness, health challenges, and changes to your body. None of this takes away from the delight of being a parent… but it’s a whole undertaking to get there.

And now we can add hearing loss to that list of disadvantages.

Most individuals don’t immediately connect hearing loss with pregnancy. So it may be surprising to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is somewhat common. It’s not a bad plan to keep an eye out for these symptoms. In some cases, the source of pregnancy-related hearing loss is harmless and insignificant. Sadly, sometimes the cause is a more serious issue that could call for swift medical attention. Is hearing loss during pregnancy permanent? Well, it could be, depending on how rapidly you address it and what the root cause is.

Pregnancy-induced hearing loss symptoms

You usually won’t hear about pregnancy-related hearing loss in pop-culture. It’s not nearly as cinematic as something like morning sickness. People generally don’t expect pregnancy-related hearing loss, because of this. So, it might be beneficial to know what to look out for.

After all, the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss go beyond turning the volume up on your television. Here are some of the most common:

  • Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be affected 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. Your hearing loss might be accompanied by dizziness and balance problems if you have an issue with your inner ear. Pregnancy-related hearing loss is no exception.
  • Headaches and migraines: Regular headaches and migraines can also be more frequent.
  • Tinnitus: Pregnancy-related hearing loss is often linked to tinnitus, or a ringing or buzzing in the ears. In some situations, this tinnitus may even sound like or take on the rhythm of your own heartbeat (this is known as pulsatile tinnitus). You should speak with your physician about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
  • Everything seems quieter: Of course, this symptom of hearing loss is the most obvious. But a condition called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” happens suddenly and can be more obvious. Any type of sudden 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 permanent.
  • A plugged feeling in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears frequently accompanies pregnancy-related hearing loss.

None of these symptoms are inevitably universal. You will most likely experience some symptoms and not others depending on the underlying 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 in some cases be a sign of some rare but larger issues.

The causes of pregnancy-induced hearing loss

Is hearing affected by pregnancy? Well, maybe, sometimes. But being pregnant may also affect other parts of your body that will then go on to impact your hearing.

So, what are the likely causes of pregnancy-induced hearing loss? Here are several of the most prevalent causes:

  • 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. One of those impacts can in some cases be hearing loss in the woman who is pregnant.
  • Some of the typical things: If you develop an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any kind of blockage in your ear (like earwax), this can cause hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
  • High blood pressure: When you’re pregnant, high blood pressure can trigger tinnitus and hearing loss. So telling your physician about your hearing loss symptoms is really important. Serious ailments, including preeclampsia, can trigger high blood pressure. Throughout pregnancy, these problems should be tracked.
  • Bone growth: The ability for sound to pass through your ears can be obstructed by an ailment called otosclerosis which causes the tiny bones in your ear to grow too fast. In pregnant individuals, this faster bone growth may be caused by changes in your hormones or other changes in your body. It should be mentioned that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and exactly how much it affects hearing, is continuing.
  • Hormone and circulatory changes: Your body is doing an exceptional amount of work when you become pregnant. Your hormones and circulatory system are experiencing lots of changes, as a result.

In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss just won’t be all that well understood. The essential thing will be to be mindful of your symptoms and be in frequent communication with your doctor.

How do you manage this form of hearing loss?

The underlying cause of this kind of hearing loss will generally determine the course of treatment. Will my hearing return to normal? This is the most common question individuals will have. In most cases, yes, your hearing will go back 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 blocking your ear canal, you may require additional treatment. Similarly, if you experience abrupt sensorineural hearing loss, the outcome will depend on how quickly you receive treatment.

That’s why it’s so essential to be certain that you report these symptoms to your provider. You may then undergo a comprehensive hearing screening or assessment to help get to the bottom of your symptoms (or at least rule out any of the more severe possible impacts).

Protect your hearing

Even when you’re pregnant, while you’re managing so many other things, it’s important to make sure you watch out for and safeguard your hearing. One of the best ways to do that is to stay in touch with us and with your care team. Give us a call today to schedule a hearing assessment.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.