Welcome to our comprehensive guide on dealing with ringing in ears during pregnancy. This phenomenon, more commonly known as tinnitus, can be unsettling, especially for expectant mothers. While pregnancy is a time of joy and anticipation, it can also bring about various physical changes and challenges, and tinnitus can be one of them.

This article aims to provide you with a thorough understanding of the potential causes, symptoms, and most importantly, treatment options for tinnitus during pregnancy. We’ll discuss how conditions like high blood pressure, anemia, migraines, and preeclampsia can contribute to tinnitus. Moreover, we will discuss how earwax buildup, headaches, and factors like stress and poor sleep can exacerbate the condition. Furthermore, we’ll guide you on getting tested for tinnitus and navigating through this often-overlooked pregnancy symptom. Remember, while tinnitus can be bothersome, there are ways to manage it. So let’s dive in and explore how you can find relief and enjoy this special period of your life.

Ringing In Ears During Pregnancy Symptoms

The experience of ringing in the ears during pregnancy, medically referred to as tinnitus, can manifest in several ways and may vary in intensity. The primary symptom is, of course, the perception of a ringing, buzzing, hissing, or humming sound in one or both ears when there’s no external sound source. Sometimes ear popping appears as well. These sounds can be continuous or intermittent and may fluctuate in volume. Some pregnant women may find these sounds merely annoying, while others may find them significantly disruptive to their daily lives, impacting concentration or even sleep.

Tinnitus may also be associated with a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears. It’s important to note that while these symptoms can be stressful, especially for expectant mothers, they are usually temporary and resolve post-pregnancy. However, any new or worsening symptoms should always be discussed with a healthcare provider to rule out other potential health concerns.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus, the perception of noise or ringing in the ears, can result from a various causes. However, the mechanisms behind tinnitus are not yet fully understood by the scientific community. One common cause is damage to the inner ear, specifically the tiny hair cells that facilitate the transmission of sound signals to the brain. This damage could be due to age, exposure to loud noise, certain medications, or after an injury at the head.

Additionally, conditions like Meniere’s disease, which is characterized by an excess of fluid in the inner ear, can also cause tinnitus. Less common causes include vascular issues like high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or tumors pressing on the nerves of the inner ear. Sometimes, it may also be caused by earwax blockage (ear popping is common in this case) or changes in the ear bone. In some cases, the exact cause of tinnitus might remain unknown. In the next paragraphs, we will provide more details on the potential causes of tinnitus.

It’s important to note that tinnitus can also be a symptom of underlying health conditions, such as anemia, kidney problems, thyroid problems, or autoimmune diseases, and hence should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

Ringing In Ears During Pregnancy: Is Tinnitus Common During Pregnancy?

Tinnitus, or the sensation of ringing or noise in the ears, can indeed occur during pregnancy, although it is not considered a common pregnancy symptom. While it’s not completely clear why some pregnant women experience tinnitus, several factors may contribute. One is the increased blood flow and fluid retention that come with pregnancy, which can lead to changes in the ear causing tinnitus.

Another factor could be the hormonal changes occurring during pregnancy, which can affect various systems in the body, including auditory functions. In some cases, tinnitus during pregnancy could be linked to stress or anxiety, both of which may be present during this period. It’s also important to consider that certain pregnancy-related conditions, such as gestational hypertension or preeclampsia, might induce tinnitus.

If you are pregnant and experience persistent tinnitus, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare provider, as it could potentially indicate a need for medical attention. Let’s have a closer look to the causes of tinnitus during pregnancy in the next paragraphs.

Tinnitus causes

  • High Blood Pressure: 

High blood pressure can cause tinnitus. The increased blood pressure can lead to changes in the way blood flows in and around the ears, which may induce the sensation of noise or ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus. The sound typically pulses in time with your heartbeat, a phenomenon known as pulsatile tinnitus. It’s important to note that regular exercise, a balanced diet, and a reduction in salt and alcohol intake can all contribute to the management of high blood pressure, which may, in turn, reduce the severity of tinnitus.

  • Iron-Deficiency Anemia: 

Iron-deficiency anemia can also contribute to tinnitus. In this condition, your body lacks enough iron to produce hemoglobin, the component of red blood cells that carries oxygen. This deficiency can cause a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, and tinnitus. The exact connection between anemia and tinnitus isn’t fully understood, but it’s thought that decreased oxygen delivery to the ear due to anemia could disrupt the normal functioning of the ear, leading to tinnitus. Treating the underlying anemia through diet or iron supplements often helps in reducing or eliminating the tinnitus.

  • Headaches or Migraines 

Headaches or Migraines can often become a common complaint during pregnancy, especially in the first and third trimesters. Hormonal changes, increased blood volume, and circulation, tension from physical changes, or even dehydration and lack of sleep can trigger these headaches. Sometimes, these headaches can be accompanied by tinnitus, presenting as a ringing, buzzing, or whistling noise in one or both ears.

Migraines, in particular, can be associated with auditory symptoms due to the neurological nature of the condition. If you’re experiencing frequent headaches or migraines accompanied by tinnitus during pregnancy, it’s essential to consult your healthcare provider. Managing these conditions might involve lifestyle changes, stress management, maintaining hydration, getting adequate rest, and in some cases, medication. Your healthcare provider can guide you in adopting safe and effective management strategies during your pregnancy.

  • Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a severe condition that typically occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy, and it’s characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to other organs, often the liver and kidneys. In some cases, preeclampsia can also lead to tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing noise in one or both ears. This may be due to the changes in blood flow caused by the condition, which can affect the ears and result in tinnitus.

Preeclampsia can have severe complications if not treated promptly, leading to serious, even fatal, complications for both mother and baby. Symptoms of preeclampsia may include headaches, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and swelling in the hands and face. If you’re pregnant and notice any of these symptoms, particularly if you’re experiencing tinnitus, it’s crucial to contact your healthcare provider immediately for a complete evaluation. Treatment usually involves managing symptoms and may require early baby delivery in severe cases [1].

  • Earwax in ears

Why do my ears feel clogged during pregnancy? Earwax buildup is a potential cause for the feeling of clogged ears during pregnancy. Earwax, or cerumen, is a normal substance produced by the body to clean, protect, and lubricate the ears. However, many times it causes ringing or ear popping. However, hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to an overproduction of earwax, which can accumulate and harden in the ear canal, causing a blockage.

This blockage can lead to symptoms such as a feeling of fullness or stuffiness in the ear, reduced hearing, tinnitus, dizziness, or even pain. It’s crucial to avoid using cotton swabs or other objects to try to remove the wax at home, as this can push the wax further into the ear and exacerbate the problem. If you suspect you have earwax buildup during pregnancy, it’s best to consult healthcare.

  • Stress and poor sleep

Stress and poor sleep can have a significant impact on your overall well-being during pregnancy and can be a contributing factor to tinnitus. Pregnancy can be a stressful time due to hormonal changes, physical discomfort, and the anticipation of bringing a new life into the world. This stress, coupled with disrupted sleep patterns commonly experienced during pregnancy, can exacerbate symptoms of tinnitus. It’s believed that stress and lack of sleep can alter your body’s response system and can potentially affect your auditory processing, leading to a perception of sounds like ringing in the ears.

Moreover, stress and poor sleep can form a vicious cycle with tinnitus, as tinnitus can cause anxiety and disturb sleep, which in turn can worsen the tinnitus. It is, therefore, essential to prioritize stress management and good sleep hygiene during pregnancy. Practices such as mindfulness, gentle exercise, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, and seeking support can help manage stress levels and improve sleep quality, which may help alleviate tinnitus symptoms.

Getting Tested for Tinnitus

Otoscope and Hearing Aids  Close up on a Audiogram

If you’re experiencing symptoms of tinnitus, it’s crucial to seek medical advice. Getting tested for tinnitus often involves an evaluation of your medical history and a series of audiological (hearing) examinations. A healthcare provider, often an audiologist or an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat doctor), will likely conduct these tests. They might start by asking about the nature of the noise you’re hearing, the duration, whether it’s in one or both ears, and how severely it impacts your daily life.

A basic hearing test, known as pure tone audiometry, can be performed to determine if any hearing loss is present, which is often associated with tinnitus. Other tests may include tinnitus pitch and loudness matching, where the audiologist attempts to replicate the sound you’re hearing to understand it better. Sometimes, imaging tests, such as an MRI or CT scan, may be required if the healthcare provider suspects an underlying condition is causing your tinnitus.

It’s essential to remember that while tinnitus can feel overwhelming, it is manageable and several effective treatment options are available. Early intervention and thorough testing can play a crucial role in developing an effective treatment plan and improving the quality of life for individuals with tinnitus.

Managing Ringing In Ears During Pregnancy And After (Relief and Treatment Options)

Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, often disappears after pregnancy as hormone levels return to normal. However, it may persist due to factors like postpartum depression or stress. If the ringing in the ear continues, it’s advised to consult a hearing specialist for treatment options.

There’s no absolute cure for tinnitus, but symptoms can be reduced by various methods. These should be discussed with your doctor before trying any treatments. Consultations with your OB/GYN and a hearing specialist could be beneficial, particularly if symptoms persist despite initial suggestions.

In cases where the tinnitus persists, treatments may include iron supplements for anemia, managing blood pressure, sound therapy, and even the use of a hearing aid. Some patients find relief in relaxation techniques like meditation, reading, or yoga to reduce stress. Sound machines producing ambient noises can help drown out the ringing, especially at night.

Psychotherapy can also help manage tinnitus, as stress, anxiety, and depression can make it worse. This treatment does not imply that tinnitus is a mental illness, but is a useful tool for management. Always consult with a medical professional for any treatments during pregnancy [3].

Ringing In Ears During Pregnancy Takeaway 

In conclusion, the experience of tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, during pregnancy, can indeed be a challenging aspect of this transformative journey. As we have seen, tinnitus can arise due to a variety of factors, such as high blood pressure, anemia, migraines, preeclampsia, earwax buildup, stress, and poor sleep. While these symptoms can feel overwhelming, it’s crucial to remember that they are usually temporary and tend to resolve post-pregnancy.

Moreover, understanding the possible causes and seeking timely medical advice can help manage tinnitus effectively. Getting tested can provide valuable insights into the nature of your tinnitus and aid in the development of a personalized treatment plan. At the end of the day, every pregnancy is unique, and taking care of your health during this time is paramount.

Always consult with your healthcare provider about any concerns or symptoms you have during your pregnancy even minor things such as ringing in ears during pregnancy. Your well-being matters not just for your own comfort but for the healthy development of your little one as well.

References:

[1] Les Centres Masliah. “Tinnitus During Pregnancy: How to Explain It.” Retrieved from: https://www.lescentresmasliah.com/en/tinnitus-during-pregnancy-how-to-explain-it/

[2] Healthy Hearing. “Causes of Tinnitus and Hearing Loss During Pregnancy.” Retrieved from: https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/53146-Causes-of-tinnitus-and-hearing-loss-during-pregnancy

[3] Helping Me Hear. “Help! My Pregnancy is Giving Me Tinnitus!” Retrieved from: https://www.helpingmehear.com/tinnitus-articles/help-my-pregnancy-is-giving-me-tinnitus/

Eleftheria Georganti
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Eleftheria's world revolves around sound - whether it's designing high-quality audio applications, crunching numbers in audio signal processing (DSP), decoding room acoustics, listening to music or crafting the latest hearing aid technology and new features. She has a professional career spanning over 15 years and a strong research record (over 40 articles and patents) and has been the driving force behind top-notch products at leading hearing aid and audio tech companies. But what really makes her enthusiastic is sharing what she knows. As an avid writer, she loves spreading the word on the science of hearing, hearing aids and health technologies. Her ultimate goal? To give people with hearing impairments the insights they need to live their best life.

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