Hearing Problems

Hearing problems in pregnancy

Can your hearing be affected during pregnancy?

Are you experiencing hearing loss and tinnitus during pregnancy? You may be wondering if there are types of hearing problems associated with pregnancy.

Sudden hearing loss is not an unknown complaint during pregnancy, although it is less heard of. Your hearing could be affected during pregnancy, leading to you to experiencing peculiar sensations in your ears or to hearing problems. There are a range of hearing loss symptoms and different types of pregnancy tinnitus.

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What causes deafness or tinnitus during pregnancy?

You may experience one or several of the following symptoms associated with hearing problems during pregnancy:

  • A sensation like having water stuck in your ear? Also known as „swimmers ear“
  • A blocked feeling, making it harder to hear.
  • Perhaps a regular “whooshing” sound – like the sound of your blood pumping ?
  • Or feeling like your voice is echoing in your ear? Maybe you swallowed and since then you can only hear what seems to be like an echo.
  • A buzzing or humming sound which comes and goes?
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What is Pregnancy Tinnitus?

These are all symptoms of pregnancy tinnitus. Pregnancy tinnitus can make it difficult to hear properly. It can be worrying when you experience sudden hearing loss. Pregnancy auditory complaints may come and go during the day, or sometimes last for hours or even days on end.

Is tinnitus common in pregnancy?

Tinnitus is more common in pregnancy, according to a study, 1 in 5 pregnant women experience tinnitus. It may come and go or even stay completely throughout the pregnancy. Tinnitus can occur more during the third trimester.

Tinnitus and hearing loss complaints during pregnancy rise during the third trimester, mainly due to prenatal bodily changes in the build up to the birth.

 

Why do pregnant women experience hearing loss?
  • Increased blood volume – blood volume increases by up to 50% during pregnancy (American Association of Pregnancy). This increase in blood volume could lead to a possible increase in blood pressure or swelled blood vessels during pregnancy, can affect the middle ear.
  • Swollen blood vessels – There may be increased pressure in blood vessels in and around your ears, which in turn affects the fluid in the cochlea. Fluid in the cochlea is responsible for regulating electrical transmissions between your brain and your ear. If cochlea fluid is disturbed, this in turn affects the transmission of electrical signals. Imagine it like a misfiring going on which creates missed signals and disturbs your hearing.
  • Increased hormone levels may also affect nerve cells within the middle ear, leading to tinnitus.
  • Changes to mineral levels in the body could also be an influencing factor leading to the swelling of the cochlea.
  • Water retention could also affect the fluid in your cochlea, again disrupting the transmission of electrical signals between your ear and your brain.
  • You may simply be experiencing a blocked ear due to too much ear wax. Is it normal to have blocked ears during pregnancy? There is no research to show that more ear wax could be produced during pregnancy.

Hearing loss symptoms associated with pregnancy should gradually disappear postpartum, however, symptoms should always be checked by a medical professional. Ask for an appointment with an ear nose and throat doctor during pregnancy. It is advisable to go for a follow up hearing test postpartum in case of any residual hearing loss.

As pregnancy tinnitus could be a sign of increased blood pressure or more serious problems, you should always get yourself checked by your regular doctor too.

Recommendations for easing hearing problems during pregnancy

You may be having a hard time dealing with continuous hearing problems. It can be very frustrating and downright irritating.

  • Explain to those close to you that you are experiencing hearing difficulties and that they need to be patient with you.
  • Turn your „good ear“ towards conversations: quite likely, your hearing problem will only affect one side, so you can turn your “good ear” towards conversations.
  • Get some rest and relax, take some deserved quiet time.
  • Try out some different tinnitus apps for managing tinnitus. There are many options available to you to download on your mobile phone. Try out a few to see which one works best for you. Tinnitus apps work by distracting you from the actual tinnitus noise in you ear, for example with white noise.

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