Understanding Hearing Loss During Pregnancy

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

Of course, pregnancy is amazing and fantastic. But when it comes to how it can make you feel, it can be pretty unpleasant, at least in some cases. There are all kinds of weird side effects, including 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 there’s another possible small disadvantage to add to the list: hearing loss.

Pregnancy isn’t typically the first thing you think of when someone is talking about hearing loss. But pregnancy-associated hearing loss is actually more common than most individuals might think. It’s not a bad idea to watch out for these symptoms. Pregnancy-induced hearing loss isn’t something you need to be worried about in most cases. In other cases, the cause is a serious issue and may require immediate 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.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy-induced hearing loss?

You generally won’t hear about pregnancy-related hearing loss in pop-culture. It isn’t nearly as cinematic as things like morning sickness. This means that, generally, people might be less likely to expect pregnancy-related hearing loss. So, it may be helpful to know what to look out for.

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

  • Dizziness and imbalance: The inner ear can be impacted by pregnancy-related hearing loss, or in some cases a pre-existing issue 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.
  • Headaches and migraines: Regular headaches and migraines can also be more consistent.
  • Tinnitus: Pregnancy-related hearing loss is often linked to tinnitus, or a ringing or buzzing in the ears. The rhythm and sound of your tinnitus symptoms can, in some circumstances, sound like your own heartbeat which is called “pulsatile tinnitus”. Whether this tinnitus exists by itself or with hearing loss, it’s worth consulting your doctor about what you’re feeling.
  • Everything seems quieter: Of course, this symptom of hearing loss is the most apparent. But if it comes on abruptly, it’s something called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. You need to report any sudden hearing loss during pregnancy to your physician as soon as you can. In order to stop sudden hearing loss from becoming irreversible, you might require emergency treatment.
  • You feel plugged in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears often accompanies pregnancy-related hearing loss.

None of these symptoms are fundamentally universal. Depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss, you may experience some symptoms but not others. Either way, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor if experience any of these hearing loss symptoms. That’s because these symptoms can sometimes be a sign of some rare but larger issues.

The causes of pregnancy-induced hearing loss

Is hearing affected by pregnancy? Well, possibly, sometimes. But other parts of your body are affected by pregnancy and those parts of your body can then impact your hearing.

So, what are the likely causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss? Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Hormone and circulatory changes: When you get pregnant, your body is doing an exceptional amount of work. As a consequence, all kinds of changes are afoot, both in terms of your hormones and your circulatory system.
  • Some of the typical things: Whether you’re pregnant or not, common things like obstructions, sinus infections, and ear infections can trigger hearing loss.
  • Bone growth: The ability for sound to pass through your ears can be blocked by a condition called otosclerosis which causes the tiny bones in your ear to grow too fast. Pregnancy induces hormonal changes and other body changes that can cause this kind of bone growth. It should be mentioned that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and just how much it affects hearing, is continuing.
  • An iron deficiency: An iron deficiency while you’re pregnant can have a wide variety of consequences for your health and your child’s health. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those effects for the pregnant person.
  • High blood pressure: When you’re pregnant, high blood pressure can trigger tinnitus and hearing loss. And this is, to some extent, why it’s extremely important to tell your provider about your hearing loss. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other serious conditions. These are issues that should be watched carefully throughout your pregnancy.

Sometimes, the cause of your hearing loss may be difficult to determine. Routinely talking to your doctor and keeping an eye on your symptoms is the key here.

How do you manage this form of hearing loss?

The root cause of this kind of hearing loss will generally determine the course of treatment. The question that most people have is: will my hearing loss clear up? Once your pregnancy has ended, your hearing should return to normal, or possibly even sooner.

However, this isn’t always the default, so it’s important to be proactive when you notice symptoms. You may need extra treatment if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, for instance. The outcome will also depend on how fast you get treatment when it comes to abrupt sensorineural hearing loss.

That’s why it’s so essential to make sure you report these symptoms to your doctor. The next step will most likely be a complete hearing assessment to rule out any more serious conditions and try to diagnose the inherent cause.

Protect your hearing

Protecting your hearing is something you should pay attention to especially when you’re pregnant. One of the best ways to do that is to stay in touch with us and with your care team. Schedule a hearing examination with us right away.

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.