Hearing loss can happen to anyone at any time, but you may not expect it to happen after giving birth.
After Edda Collins Coleman had her third C-section, her baby daughter was checked out for standard complications. While this was happening, Coleman felt a strong pain after her vitals were taken and a nurse pressed down on her stomach. She then experienced hearing loss.
The anesthesiologist went over Coleman’s condition and reassured her that her hearing would go back to normal after the head congestion, a common symptom in pregnancy, went away. In Coleman’s case, her hearing never came back.
The Mysteries of Hearing Loss during Pregnancy or Childbirth
There is still no explanation as to why hearing loss may occur during pregnancy or childbirth. We do know that changes in hormones or high blood pressure can lead to hearing loss. This may include ears that feel blocked up or hearing buzzing noises in the background. It’s worth noting that losing your hearing during pregnancy and/or childbirth is rare.
Coleman’s head congestion went away the following day, but noises were muted and her hearing did not feel normal. For months, things did not get better. She heard loud humming noises in her ears, her children’s voices sounded unclear while they were sitting in the back seat of her car, she couldn’t hear the cashier at the grocery store, and she was unable to hear co-workers who spoke to her while approaching her desk. She frequently had to ask others to repeat themselves while they were speaking directly to her.
The Delay in Seeking Help for Hearing Loss
It took Coleman nine months after giving birth to seek help, with some encouragement from her husband.
She was diagnosed with severe hearing loss in both ears. Over a quarter of her hearing was lost in her left ear and nearly 40 percent was lost in her right ear. She has difficulty hearing the differences in lower tones. This affects the way she hears music and people speaking.
According to the British Tinnitus Association, more than one-third of pregnant women develop tinnitus. It can be triggered by stress, headaches, high blood pressure, and other conditions that are associated with pregnant women. Most of the time, tinnitus will go away after the baby is born.
Otosclerosis, which is abnormal bone growth in the middle ear, can occur during pregnancy. It might be the result of changes in a woman’s hormones. Mild or severe hearing loss may occur, but hearing aids or surgery can relieve these symptoms.
It is unknown whether pregnancy directly causes otosclerosis, but there does seem to be a connection. It’s more common in women who are in their 20s and 30s, and it can be genetic or caused by their environment.
Coleman’s hearing loss did not happen during her pregnancy, so otosclerosis was eliminated as a probable cause.
Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), or sudden deafness, is when there is nerve damage in the inner ear. This became another possible cause that was examined by her physicians. She was informed that this type of hearing loss is permanent.
A Closer Examination, but with No Concrete Answers
After undergoing a number of other tests, she was diagnosed with another problem that her doctors believe caused her hearing loss: Coleman has an abnormally shaped cochlea - this is located in the inner ear and converts sound into nerve signals to the brain. Even though this does not explain why childbirth caused her hearing loss, she can get more genetic testing done to understand why her cochlea is deformed. This will also help her three daughters understand if they also inherit this problem.
The year after her daughter was born, Coleman started wearing hearing aids. They significantly helped her hear again. Her tinnitus is unnoticeable while wearing the devices, but can be heard again when taking them out before bedtime. It’s not disruptive enough to affect her sleep. Hearing aids helped her hear her daughter’s first words, laughter, music, theater, birds chirping, and important conversations during meetings. Asking others to repeat themselves and enunciating their words is still something she has to deal with, but it’s better than it was before she started wearing hearing aids.
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.