Understanding Hearing Loss During Pregnancy

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

Sure, pregnancy is amazing and incredible. But it can also be kind of… unpleasant, at least sometimes, and at least in terms of how it can make you feel. There are all sorts of weird side effects, like morning sickness, health challenges, and changes to your body. Getting there can be a bit of a process, but that doesn’t detract 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 somebody is talking about hearing loss. But pregnancy-associated hearing loss is actually more prevalent than most individuals might presume. It’s not a bad plan to keep an eye out for these symptoms. Pregnancy-related 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 permanent? Well, it could be, depending on how fast you treat it and what the underlying cause is.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss?

Hearing loss during pregnancy doesn’t appear on many sitcoms or in many romantic comedies. It isn’t nearly as cinematic as something like morning sickness. People typically don’t expect pregnancy-related hearing loss, because of this. So, it may be useful to know what to look out for.

Pregnancy-related hearing loss is about more than just cranking the volume up on your devices, after all. Here are some of the most common:

  • Headaches and migraines: Regular headaches and migraines can also be more frequent.
  • Everything seems quieter: Certainly, this is probably the most evident sign of hearing loss. But a condition called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” comes on abruptly and can be more apparent. You should convey any abrupt hearing loss during pregnancy to your doctor as soon as possible. You might need emergency treatment to stop the sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent.
  • Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be impacted by pregnancy-induced hearing loss, or sometimes a pre-existing issue with the inner ear can be the cause of that hearing loss. Your hearing loss may be accompanied by dizziness and balance problems if you have a problem with your inner ear. Pregnancy-related hearing loss isn’t an exception.
  • Tinnitus: Pregnancy-related hearing loss is frequently linked to 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 known as “pulsatile tinnitus”. Whether this tinnitus exists on its own or with hearing loss, it’s worth consulting your doctor about what you’re feeling.
  • You feel a fullness in your ears: Pregnancy-related hearing loss might in some cases be accompanied by a feeling of stuffiness or fullness in your ears.

These aren’t universal symptoms. You will probably experience some symptoms and not others depending on the underlying cause of your pregnancy-induced hearing loss. In any case, if you experience hearing loss or any of the related symptoms while you are pregnant, it’s usually a good plan to talk to your doctor. That’s because these symptoms can in some cases be an indication of some rare but bigger problems.

What causes pregnancy-related hearing loss?

Does being pregnant affect hearing? In some cases, possibly. But other parts of your body are affected by pregnancy and those parts of your body can then affect your hearing.

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

  • Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): Your body is performing an extraordinary amount of work when you get pregnant. As a consequence, all sorts of changes are afoot, both in terms of your hormones and your circulatory system.
  • Bone growth: There’s a rare affliction known as otosclerosis where the tiny bones in your ear begin growing more quickly, and this accelerated growth blocks the ability of sound to pass through your ears. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes and other body changes that can lead to this type of bone growth. Otoscerlosis research is still an ongoing process, and scientists are still working out just how much it impacts hearing.
  • An iron deficiency: Your health, and the health of your child, can both be affected in lots of ways by an iron deficiency. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those effects for the pregnant woman.
  • High blood pressure: While you’re pregnant, high blood pressure can cause tinnitus and hearing loss. So telling your physician about your hearing loss symptoms is very important. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other severe conditions. These are problems that should be watched carefully throughout your pregnancy.
  • Some of the typical things: If you develop an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any type of obstruction in your ear (like earwax), this can cause hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.

Sometimes, the cause of your hearing loss may be difficult to identify. The essential thing will be to keep an eye on your symptoms and be in frequent communication with your provider.

How do you treat this form of hearing loss?

Treatment of this form of hearing loss will usually depend on the root cause. Will my hearing return to normal? This is the most prevalent question people will have. In most instances, yes, your hearing will return to normal once your pregnancy is over, or maybe even before.

However, this isn’t always the situation, so it’s important to be aggressive when you detect symptoms. You might need extra treatment if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, for example. Similarly, if you suffer from sudden sensorineural hearing loss, the results will depend on how rapidly you receive treatment.

That’s why it’s so essential to be sure you report these symptoms to your provider. You may then go through a comprehensive hearing screening or evaluation to help get to the bottom of your symptoms (or at least eliminate any of the more severe possible impacts).

Protect your hearing

Even when you’re pregnant, while you’re juggling so many other things, it’s important to be certain you pay attention to and protect 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.

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.