Q: My daughter’s friend is pregnant and is suddenly experiencing ringing in her ear coupled with difficulty hearing. She has been told this can happen due to her pregnancy. Is this true?
A: Thank you for bringing this question to us this month as we are happy to review this subject with you. As we all know, pregnancy is a special and exciting time for a woman to experience. With pregnancy, however, comes many changes, physical and emotional. These changes can lead to excitement, but also potential complications. Hearing loss can be a potential side effect of pregnancy during these months. The complication of hearing loss may lead to other symptoms such as tinnitus (ringing in the ear), pressure in the ear, otalgia (ache or pain in the ear), secretion in the ear, otosclerosis (abnormal growth of bone in the ear), and/or sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
There are many reasons for these potential hearing issues that develop during pregnancy, and among the key factors are the hormonal changes the body experiences. Otosclerosis often surfaces during pregnancy because of the hormonal modulation. The body’s transformation affects the circulation of the fluid in the cochlea (inner ear), which results in hearing difficulties such as the sensorineural hearing loss, otalgia, and other impairments listed above. The cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and hematological system (blood flow) are a few other parts of the body that may be affected throughout pregnancy.
Other symptoms of hearing problems include reduction in the sensation of hearing, dizziness or vertigo, nausea, and balance issues. If any of these symptoms arise, it is crucial to discuss them with the treating physician who most likely will consult with an otolaryngologist and audiologist.
The doctor will also most likely recommend treating these hearing problems differently depending on the type and severity of the problem. After an assessment, the physician will determine if medication is warranted and whether or not it may affect the development of the baby. If medication is necessary, a low dose will be prescribed. A hearing aid may be recommended as part of the treatment to improve the hearing loss.
Of course, there are some things a mom can do throughout pregnancy to prevent or lessen any potential health issues. Resting is always prescribed as it prevents stress. Pregnant women should also avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, eating foods with MSG, and exposure to excessively noisy environments. It’s helpful to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, which may lead to nausea and/or vomiting.
Depending on the pregnant mom’s condition, there may be other recommendations from the treating physician. Being aware of potential hearing loss in pregnancy and following the physician’s treatment will assure you a happier and healthier pregnancy. As always, please feel free to contact us at Northwest Ohio Hearing Clinic with concerns.❦