Understanding Hearing Loss During Pregnancy

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

It’s an awesome and wonderful experience, having a baby. But when it comes to how it can make you feel, it can be pretty uncomfortable, at least sometimes. There are all kinds of weird side effects, like morning sickness, health hazards, and changes to your body. None of this detracts from the happiness 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.

Pregnancy isn’t normally the first thing you think of when somebody is talking about hearing loss. So it may be surprising to learn that pregnancy-related hearing loss is somewhat prevalent. It’s not a bad idea to watch out for these symptoms. In some cases, the source of pregnancy-related hearing loss is harmless and banal. In other cases, the cause is a serious concern and could call for immediate medical treatment. Will pregnancy-related hearing loss go away? Well, it could be, depending on how fast you address it and what the root cause is.

Pregnancy-related hearing loss symptoms

You generally won’t hear about pregnancy-induced hearing loss in pop-culture. Things like morning sickness are a lot more cinematic. People typically 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 turning up the volume on your television. The most common symptoms include the following:

  • Everything seems quieter: Of course, this indication of hearing loss is the most evident. But if it comes on abruptly, it’s something called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. You should report any abrupt hearing loss during pregnancy to your physician as soon as possible. In order to prevent sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent, you may need emergency treatment.
  • Headaches and migraines: You might also experience an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you get on a regular basis.
  • Tinnitus: A ringing in your ears, called tinnitus, is often associated with pregnancy-induced hearing loss. In some situations, this tinnitus may even sound like or take on the rhythm of your own heartbeat (this is called 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.
  • A feeling of fullness in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears frequently accompanies pregnancy-related hearing loss.
  • Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be affected by pregnancy-induced hearing loss, or sometimes a pre-existing problem with the inner ear can be the source of that hearing loss. Whenever your inner ear isn’t functioning correctly, you may have problems with balance and dizziness with your hearing loss. Pregnancy-related hearing loss is no exception.

These aren’t universal symptoms. You will probably experience some symptoms and not others depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss. In any case, 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 provider. That’s because these symptoms can in some cases be an indication of some rare but bigger issues.

The causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss

Does being pregnant affect hearing? Well, maybe, in some cases. But being pregnant may also affect other parts of your body that will then go on to affect your hearing.

So how can pregnancy-related hearing loss possibly be caused? Well, the causes vary… but some of the most prevalent include:

  • Hormone and circulatory changes: When you get pregnant, your body is doing an exceptional amount of work. Your hormones and circulatory system are experiencing lots of changes, as a result.
  • An iron deficiency: Your health, and the health of your baby, can both be impacted in lots of ways by an iron deficiency. One of those impacts can sometimes be hearing loss in the woman who is pregnant.
  • 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 quickly. In pregnant women, this faster bone growth might be caused by changes in your hormones or other changes in your body. It should be mentioned that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and just how much it impacts hearing, is ongoing.
  • Some of the typical things: If you get an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any kind of blockage in your ear (like earwax), this can trigger hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.
  • High blood pressure: Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the result of high blood pressure which can be caused by pregnancy. And this is, in part, why it’s really important to tell your provider about your hearing loss. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other severe ailments. Throughout pregnancy, these issues should be monitored.

Sometimes, the cause of your hearing loss may be difficult to identify. Regularly talking to your physician and keeping track of your symptoms is the key here.

How is this type of hearing loss managed?

The root cause of this kind of hearing loss will largely determine the course of treatment. The question that most people have is: will my hearing return to normal? In most instances, yes, your hearing will go back to normal once your pregnancy is over, or maybe even before.

But it’s also essential to get treatment for any symptoms you notice because getting your hearing back isn’t always certain. You may require extra treatment if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, for example. Similarly, if you suffer from abrupt sensorineural hearing loss, the outcome will depend on how fast you receive treatment.

That’s why it’s so essential to make sure you report these symptoms to your provider. The next step will probably be a thorough hearing evaluation to rule out any more serious conditions and try to diagnose the underlying cause.

Protect your hearing

Protecting your hearing is something you should watch out for especially when you’re pregnant. Getting regular evaluations with us is one of the best ways to do that. 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.


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