What You Should Know About Pregnancy and Hearing
Pregnancy is an exciting part of a woman’s life. However, there may be times when a woman experiences complications that would make the pregnancy journey a stressful one. A woman’s body undergoes a wide range of physical and physiological changes, and some of them can even be more serious for those who already have existing disabilities.
For those with hearing problems, it can be scary to think that pregnancy can also affect their hearing even more. What are the ear complications associated with pregnancy? Read on.
Hearing Impairments During Pregnancy
Pregnant women would most commonly experience physiologic changes from the neck up. This includes:
Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
Most pregnant women will experience Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) during pregnancy. This can be due to the increase in the swelling of the ear’s mucosa, which can result in obstruction. This condition can be easily treated with decongestants. In some cases, a ventilation tube may be needed to treat effusion, but this is extremely rare. Take note that ETD can also be due to a gaping tube when a woman undergoes inadequate weight gain. In such a case, it is common to hear roaring sounds, which can become worse when treated with decongestants.
Since pregnant women will have an increase in estrogen levels, it is also common to see otosclerosis. The symptoms would often present when you are near term or even after giving birth. If the condition causes you to have hearing problems that can complicate communication, most doctors will prescribe the use of a hearing aid.
After birth, some patients may be advised to undergo stapedectomy, in which the entire stapes bone will be removed. An otosclerosis in non-pregnant individuals can be treated with sodium fluoride to reduce bone absorption. It is contraindicated during pregnancy because of its adverse effects on the baby.
Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss
In extreme cases, a pregnant mother can also suffer from sudden sensorineural hearing loss because increased levels of estrogen can promote coagulation and blockage in the microcirculation in the inner ear, which results in toxemia. During the third trimester, pregnant mothers can receive corticosteroids.
Pregnancy can also cause individuals to have Meniere’s disease because of fluid retention. Some experts believe that it can be due to the progesterone and estrogen levels. In sudden attacks, pregnant mothers may be given medications, except for histamines and diuretics as this can cause low blood pressure and low blood volume.
Bell’s palsy is another complication that mothers may experience due to pregnancy. The condition is most commonly observed during the third trimester or early postpartum. Those who experience this during the third trimester are often given corticosteroids. For those with hearing loss, the use of hearing aids may offer relief. However, this must be differentiated from an acoustic neuroma, which affects the eighth cranial nerve in the inner ear, since both conditions present ringing in their ears or hearing loss.
Treatment During Pregnancy
Medical treatments are often tricky during pregnancy because not every effective drug can immediately be administered. It must always be done with caution as the medicines will have an effect on the mother and the unborn baby.
Mothers who experience any hearing problems should immediately consult with their attending physician for further investigation. Self-medicating during pregnancy is never safe, particularly since there may be some medications that may be ototoxic or can be harmful to the mother and the baby.