Understanding 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 child. But it can also be kind of… unpleasant, at least at times, and at least in terms of how it can make you feel. There are all sorts of peculiar side effects, including morning sickness, health challenges, and changes to your body. None of this detracts from the delight of being a parent… but it’s a whole process to get there.

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

Most individuals don’t instantly connect hearing loss with pregnancy. But pregnancy-related hearing loss is actually more common than most individuals may presume. It’s not a bad plan to watch out for these symptoms. Pregnancy-associated hearing loss isn’t something you should be worried about in most cases. Sadly, sometimes the cause is a more serious problem that could call for swift medical treatment. Is hearing loss during pregnancy irreversible? Well, the answer sort of depends on the underlying cause, and how rapidly you address it.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss?

You typically won’t hear about pregnancy-related hearing loss in pop-culture. Things like morning sickness are much more cinematic. This means that, generally, people may be less likely to anticipate pregnancy-related hearing loss. So knowing what to look out for can be helpful.

After all, the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss go beyond turning up the volume on your television. The most common symptoms include the following:

  • Dizziness and imbalance: In many cases, pregnancy-induced hearing loss can impact the inner ear (or, in some instances, whatever is impacting the inner ear is also causing hearing loss). Your hearing loss might be accompanied by dizziness and balance problems if you have a problem with your inner ear. Pregnancy-related hearing loss is no exception.
  • A feeling of fullness in your ears: Pregnancy-related hearing loss could in some cases be accompanied by a feeling of stuffiness or fullness in your ears.
  • Headaches and migraines: Regular headaches and migraines can also be more consistent.
  • Everything seems quieter: Sure, this is probably the most evident sign of hearing loss. But if it comes on abruptly, it’s something known as “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. Any type of sudden hearing loss during pregnancy should be reported to your healthcare team as soon as you can. In order to prevent sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent, you might need emergency treatment.
  • Tinnitus: Pregnancy-related hearing loss is frequently associated with tinnitus, or a ringing or buzzing in the ears. In some circumstances, this tinnitus might even sound like or take on the rhythm of your own heartbeat (this is called pulsatile tinnitus). You should consult your doctor about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.

These aren’t universal symptoms. Depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss, you might experience some symptoms but not others. Either way, it’s a good plan to contact your doctor if experience any of these hearing loss symptoms. That’s because these symptoms can in some cases be a sign of some rare but larger issues.

What causes pregnancy-related hearing loss?

Does being pregnant impact hearing? Well, maybe, in some cases. But being pregnant may also impact 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 common include:

  • 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. Pregnancy produces hormonal changes and other body changes that can cause this type of bone growth. It should be mentioned that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and just how much it affects hearing, is continuing.
  • Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): When you become pregnant, your body is doing an extreme amount of work. Your hormones and circulatory system are going through lots of changes, as a result.
  • An iron deficiency: An iron deficiency while you’re pregnant can have a wide variety of consequences for your health and your baby’s health. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those effects for the pregnant person.
  • High blood pressure: When you are pregnant, high blood pressure can cause tinnitus and hearing loss. So telling your doctor about your hearing loss symptoms is very important. Serious conditions, including preeclampsia, can cause high blood pressure. Throughout pregnancy, these issues should be monitored.
  • Some of the typical things: If you get an ear infection, a sinus infection, or any type of blockage in your ear (like earwax), this can trigger hearing loss whether you’re pregnant or not.

Sometimes, the cause of your hearing loss may be hard to determine. Regularly talking to your doctor and keeping track of your symptoms is the key here.

How do you treat this type of hearing loss?

Treatment of this kind of hearing loss will likely depend on the root cause. Will my hearing go back to normal? This is the most prevalent question people will have. Once your pregnancy is over, your hearing should return to normal, or maybe even sooner.

However, this is not always the situation, so it’s important to be aggressive when you detect symptoms. You may need additional treatment if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, for example. Likewise, if you suffer from sudden sensorineural hearing loss, the outcome will depend on how quickly you receive treatment.

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

Protect your hearing

Even when you’re pregnant, while you’re managing 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.