Pregnancy is a huge transition in a woman’s life, and it involves a complex mix of physical and psychological challenges. The ever increasing hormonal change brings about a lot of physical changes that has an impact on the well being of pregnant women.
As an Audiologist, my interest lies in the complications related to hearing sensitivity during pregnancy. Symptoms related to hearing sensitivity are generally ignored or not given enough importance due to the fact that they are confused with the general symptoms of pregnancy like nausea, tiredness etc. However, it is important that the hearing symptoms are accurately identified, diagnosed and treated.
There are different reasons for hearing problems during pregnancy. Hormonal dysfunction/change is one of the major causes. Further, the changes that occur in the cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and hematological system can affect the circulation of inner ear fluid resulting in hearing symptoms. Some of the hearing symptoms during pregnancy are:
• Hearing loss/ difficulty in hearing :
This could be because of various reasons , but one common disorder that surfaces in pregnant women is Otosclerosis. Otosclerosis is a form of abnormal bone growth within the middle ear that causes progressive hearing loss. Pregnancy is not a cause but may make the condition worse, so symptoms are commonly first noticed during pregnancy.
• Tinnitus or ringing in the ears:
It is important to understand that ringing sensation in the ear is not exclusive to pregnancy and affects nearly one in five individuals worldwide. However, with other aggravating challenges of pregnancy like morning sickness and emotional stress, tinnitus or ringing in the ears can be a dreadful experience. Though the exact cause is unknown, research has shown that high blood pressure and emotional stress can stimulate tinnitus in pregnant women.
• Vertigo/feeling of dizziness:
This is one of most common symptoms during pregnancy as the hormones start rising and changes occur in blood pressure and sugar levels in the body. However, at times, this could also be a symptom of problems in the inner part of the ear. Vertigo can also be accompanied with nausea and vomiting.
Otalgia or pain in the ear:
Ear pain is not always associated with ear disease. It may be caused by several other conditions, such as impacted teeth, sinus disease, inflamed tonsils, infections in the nose and pharynx etc. Infections of the middle ear or trauma can also cause ear pain.
Fullness or pressure in the ear:
This is the feeling that your ears are clogged, stuffed or congested. In most cases, ear fullness is caused by something as simple as congestion from a cold, a mild infection, or even earwax build-up. Occasionally, it is an indicator of a more severe ear disorder that would require immediate medical treatment.
If you suffer from any of the above symptoms during pregnancy, it is important that you seek medical advice. Your medical practitioner will recommend treatment options based on the type and severity of your symptoms.
Remember- Hearing is a very complicated process and ear is one of the most important sense organs. In today’s world, communication is one of man’s most important skills, and communication depends on the sense of hearing. Therefore, it is very important that we should be aware of the factors affecting our hearing and take appropriate action to protect our ears.
There is no doubt that hearing loss is a serious problem, but I leave you with a peek at the brighter side…….Till next time…..
By Mrs. Suma Ajith, Co-founder- Ilove9months, Audiologist with 20+ years of experience.