Understanding Hearing Loss During Pregnancy

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

Sure, pregnancy is awesome and fantastic. But when it comes to how it can make you feel, it can be rather uncomfortable, at least in some cases. There are all kinds of peculiar side effects, including morning sickness, health hazards, and changes to your body. Getting there can be a bit of a process, but that doesn’t take anything away from the joy of being a parent.

And now there’s another potential little disadvantage to add to the list: hearing loss.

Pregnancy isn’t usually 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 common. It’s not a bad idea to keep an eye out for these symptoms. In some cases, the cause of pregnancy-related hearing loss is innocuous and banal. In other cases, the cause is a serious issue and may call for immediate medical attention. Will pregnancy-related hearing loss go away? Well, the answer kind of depends on the underlying cause, and how rapidly you address it.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy-induced hearing loss?

You generally won’t hear about pregnancy-induced hearing loss in pop-culture. It isn’t nearly as cinematic as things like morning sickness. People generally don’t expect pregnancy-related hearing loss, because of this. So, it might be helpful to know what to watch out for.

Pregnancy-related hearing loss goes beyond just cranking the volume up on your devices, after all. The most prevalent symptoms include the following:

  • Dizziness and imbalance: In many instances, pregnancy-related hearing loss can affect the inner ear (or, in some situations, whatever is affecting the inner ear is also causing hearing loss). Whenever your inner ear is not working properly, you may have issues with balance and dizziness accompanying your hearing loss. And that also goes for pregnancy-related hearing loss.
  • Headaches and migraines: You may also experience an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you have regularly.
  • Tinnitus: Pregnancy-related hearing loss is often associated with tinnitus, or a ringing or buzzing in the ears. In some cases, this tinnitus might even sound like or take on the rhythm of your own heartbeat (this is known as pulsatile tinnitus). You should talk to your physician about your tinnitus, whether hearing loss is also present or not.
  • A plugged feeling in your ears: A feeling of fullness in the ears often accompanies pregnancy-related hearing loss.
  • Everything seems quieter: Sure, this is likely the most evident sign of hearing loss. But if it occurs all of a sudden, it’s something known as “sudden sensorineural hearing loss”. You need to convey any sudden hearing loss during pregnancy to your provider as soon as possible. In order to prevent sudden hearing loss from becoming permanent, you might need emergency treatment.

These aren’t universal symptoms. You will most likely experience some symptoms and not others depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss. In any event, if you experience hearing loss or any of the related symptoms while you are pregnant, it’s usually a good idea to talk to your doctor. Because these symptoms might be an indication of a more serious issue.

The causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss

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

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

  • Some of the typical things: Whether you’re pregnant or not, typical things like obstructions, sinus infections, and ear infections can trigger hearing loss.
  • Changes in your circulatory system (and hormones): When you become pregnant, your body is doing an exceptional amount of work. As a result, all kinds of changes are afoot, both with respect to your hormones and your circulatory system.
  • 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. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other serious ailments. Throughout pregnancy, these problems should be monitored.
  • 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. In pregnant women, this faster bone growth might be caused by alterations in your hormones or other changes in your body. It should be mentioned that research into otosclerosis during pregnancy, and exactly how much it impacts hearing, is ongoing.
  • 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 impacts for the pregnant woman.

In some cases, the cause of your hearing loss just won’t be all that well understood. Regularly talking to your doctor and keeping track of your symptoms is the key here.

How is this kind of hearing loss managed?

The underlying cause of this form of hearing loss will largely determine the course of treatment. The question that many individuals have is: will my hearing return to normal? Once your pregnancy has ended, your hearing should go back to normal, or possibly even sooner.

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

For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your doctor is so essential. The next step will probably be a thorough hearing evaluation to eliminate any more serious conditions and try to diagnose the inherent cause.

Protect your hearing

Protecting your hearing is something you need to watch out for particularly when you’re pregnant. One of the best ways to do that is to remain in touch with us and with your care team. Schedule a hearing exam with us as soon as possible.

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.