In many cases, pregnancy is an exciting time for expectant parents; however, the side effects can be exhausting. Not only can you feel emotional, fatigued, swollen and nauseous, but you may also experience audiological symptoms like tinnitus and, less commonly, hearing loss.
Estimates show tinnitus affects one in three pregnant women, compared to one in 10 women who aren’t pregnant.
Additionally, one study published in the Journal of Otology in 2020 reports, “The alteration of [hormones] in pregnant women can lead to several otological manifestations, including eustachian tube dysfunction, hearing impairment, otitis externa, Bell’s palsy, vertigo and tinnitus.”
In this post, we review some of the ways pregnancy is linked to tinnitus and hearing loss.
High Blood Pressure
The sensory cells inside your cochlea, called stereocilia, are extremely sensitive to changes in blood flow. Therefore, if your blood pressure changes during pregnancy, it can affect your hearing.
High blood pressure in pregnant women could indicate serious conditions such as preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome, which are medical emergencies for both the mother and baby.
If you’re experiencing audiological symptoms like tinnitus or hearing loss, let your medical provider know immediately, as it could be a sign of these conditions.
When you’re pregnant, you have an elevated risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia. Insufficient iron levels mean your red blood cells can’t carry oxygen to your auditory system as effectively, which can also contribute to tinnitus and hearing loss.
Take prenatal vitamins while you’re pregnant to prevent this condition. In addition, you should eat iron-rich foods from Know Thy Food on Milwaukie Avenue like nuts, dried fruit, wholemeal pasta and bread, legumes, dark/leafy vegetables, oats and tofu.
Headaches and Migraines
For those already prone to headaches or migraines, it’s likely you’ll experience these conditions during pregnancy. Migraines, in particular, are linked to changes in hearing sensitivity, tinnitus and also balance problems.
Talk to your doctor if your headaches or migraines are getting worse during pregnancy, so they can review treatment options with you.
To learn more about the link between pregnancy, tinnitus and hearing loss, or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Mt. Hood ENT & Allergy today.