Studies show that as many as 25% of pregnant woman suffer from tinnitus. For some, the onset is sudden. It’s over after the pregnancy. For others, the symptoms persist long after.
Let’s explore why so many women get tinnitus during pregnancy and what you can do to find relief.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a symptom caused by an underlying condition. Those with tinnitus will experience sounds superimposed over the sounds in their environment. The symptoms can be very distracting and are often constant. They make conversation, working, relaxing and sleeping difficult.
They can increase anxiety levels and even contribute to depression.
People with tinnitus may hear:
- Dial tones
- Tires screeching
- Ocean waves
- And even Music
You may be wondering how someone could hear these things if they’re not “really there.” Tinnitus is believed to not purely be a function of the ears but also the brain that may be generating the strange and persistent sounds.
Most tinnitus cannot be seen or heard by any professionals or their medical equipment. But it’s very real to those experiencing it.
Why Might It Be Triggered During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a perfect storm of factors that can lead to tinnitus.
Congestion is a common side effect during pregnancy. It can make your ears feel stuffy and full. That’s your Eustachian tubes filling up with fluid. This excess phlegm and fluid can impact how sound moves through the ear canal.
Hormones are primarily regulated in the hypothalamus, a smaller part of your brain. During pregnancy, the hypothalamus works overtime communicating with your body regarding how much hormone to produce and when to stop production.
Hormone changes can lead to intense emotion, anxiety, fatigue and even depression. These are well-known influencers of tinnitus severity.
In addition to pregnancy, UK studies have shown that women are more likely to develop tinnitus during menopause and while receiving hormone replacement therapy (HTR). Tinnitus can also occur as a symptom of PMS.
Each of these demonstrate a hormonal link.
Blood Pressure Raised
Elevated blood pressure can cause temporary tinnitus that can become permanent. Blood isn’t flowing freely through the vessels around your ears.
Increased Environmental Awareness
This survival mechanism may go back to the days of the prehistoric humans or before. When you’re pregnant, your senses are often hyper-sensitive. Touch and hearing are often more pronounced.
You may have always had tinnitus, and only became aware of it because the sound got louder.
Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants if pre- or post-partum depression is severe. Tinnitus is a known side effect.
Tinnitus most often first appears in people who are under significant stress. Pregnancy can be a very stressful time, both emotionally and physically. The body is changing. It’s producing excess hormones as it tries to keep up.
Does the Ringing Stop After Pregnancy?
Many women say the tinnitus subsides after pregnancy as their hormone levels and other factors return to normal. It may persist in cases of postpartum depression or a very stressful parenting situation.
Others find that once they become aware of it during this time, it never entirely goes away.
Reducing Pregnancy-Related Tinnitus
There is no cure for tinnitus. But some methods reduce the symptoms and their impact on your life.
- Talk to your Ob/Gyn doctor about the condition. They may suggest treatments.
- An audiologist is a doctor who’s specifically trained to treat hearing-related ailments. They may be able to develop more custom solutions for your specific condition.
- Relax any way you can safely do so. You could try exercise, meditation, reading, yoga or be doing things you enjoy. Always talk to your doctor regarding exercise routines and supplements during pregnancy.
- Sound machines can help distract the brain so that you no longer hear the tinnitus.
- Sound therapy trains the brain not to hear the tinnitus.
- In extreme cases, you can wear an ear device, similar to a hearing aid, which cancels out the sound.
You don’t have to suffer from this condition. Talk to an audiologist about other treatment options.