Pregnancy is known to cause many physiological and metabolic changes in a woman’s body. Depending on the mother’s state of health, environment, and other factors, these changes can happen without concern, or they can be dramatic and cause alarm. One of those concerns might show up in an unexpected place like the ears. Symptoms such as tinnitus, hearing loss, disturbances in balance, and even exacerbation of existing diseases in the auditory system, though rare, can happen.
What’s important is that if you or someone you know experiences hearing symptoms while pregnant that you get the appropriate help. It’s possible that you might need a hearing test or other tools such as hearing aids to help the situation.
What is Happening?
A significant and important change that occurs during pregnancy is in the hormonal system. As expected from a normal pregnancy, hormone shifts change the volume of fluids in the body. In the first two trimesters of pregnancy, blood volume increases, and in the third trimester, there is also an increase in the volume of fluid outside the blood vessels. Hormones that affect this are estrogen and progesterone, which lead to an increase in the volume and pressure of fluids in the nose, ear, and throat. An increase in the volume of fluid in the middle ear can create symptoms such as a feeling of fullness in the ear or opacity.
The congestion of the mucous tissue in the middle ear can lead to the hearing of the self-sound as stronger (occlusion effect). In addition, fluid accumulation in the middle ear cavity can create a slight and temporary decrease in hearing. This decrease is mainly manifested at low frequencies (bass sounds). Those affected like this might struggle to hear things such as a low hum on the TV or car noise.
According to a 2015 article by Singla and partners, tinnitus is the most common documented complaint in the field of ENT in pregnant women. Other reasons for the appearance of tinnitus can be an increase in blood pressure or hormonal changes. It is advisable to monitor blood pressure in this case.
The varying level of progesterone and estrogen along with the increase in fluid rate described also creates a change in the salt concentration in the auditory system, which affects the way nerve cells function in it. A change in the salt balance in the body creates an ‘imitation’ of pathology in the inner ear, which is expressed in a possible and temporary decrease in hearing at low frequencies (bass sounds) from the first trimester. There may also be a temporary sensitivity to loud noise. Of course, during pregnancy, everything feels that little bit extra sensitive – after all, it is the biggest thing that a human body can go through!
These symptoms are not as common as other issues but the link does suggest that there are issues that connect pregnancy and hearing loss. Therefore, be sure to talk to your doctor or to your ENT if you believe you are suffering from any type of auditory issue. You must consider all options. It is important that you focus on your health.
**** This post is strictly informational and is not meant to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Women’s lifelink, its owners, administrators, contributors, affiliates, vendors, authors, and editors do not claim that this information will diagnose, treat, or improve any condition or disease.