Hearing Health

Is Your Ear Ringing During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a wonderful time in a woman’s life. However, while expectant mothers are generally basking in the pregnancy glow, in the meantime, some side effects can often make these nine months challenging. Nausa, fatigue, back pain, and cravings are the usual suspects, but there are two lesser-known side effects that often get overlooked: tinnitus and, less frequently, hearing loss.

Tinnitus affects approximately 1 in 3 women during pregnancy — it affects 1 in 10 women of the same age who aren’t pregnant. Furthermore, 2 out of 3 women who have tinnitus before pregnancy report an increase in their tinnitus during pregnancy, usually in the second and third trimester. Tinnitus is most often described as a ringing in the ear, but it can also sound like buzzing, whooshing, hissing, or humming. Tinnitus is not a condition but a symptom. It is usually harmless, but in some cases, it can be a sign of something more serious, so it’s always worth seeing an audiologist.

What causes tinnitus?

Normal hormonal and circulatory changes during pregnancy are largely to blame, but there are a number of reasons you may be experiencing tinnitus during pregnancy.

High blood pressure

Increased blood pressure can cause tinnitus because the brain is so close to the ears and there’s a high amount of delicate blood vessels in that area that are sensitive to blood flow. Even if you don’t have a history of high blood pressure, pregnancy can trigger it, and it’s especially dangerous during pregnancy, so it’s not something to dismiss.


If you suffer from headaches or migraines, pregnancy can make your condition worse, and you may find that you have hearing loss, tinnitus or muffled hearing that appears or gets more intense during a migraine attack.

Wax build-up

When your ear canal gets blocked with wax, your eardrum cannot operate properly. While too much earwax can lead to hearing loss and tinnitus, the good news is that this is an easy problem to fix. You can try earwax removal drops at home, but seeing an audiologist is always the best and safest option.

A bite problem

The idea might sound far-fetched, but problems related to the jaw joint can cause tinnitus or muffled hearing. This might be easily alleviated by wearing a mouthpiece at night, so if all other medical issues have been ruled out, speak to your dentist.


Anemia is a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body’s tissues. Having anemia can make you experience a range of symptoms including hearing problems. Be sure to introduce iron-rich foods to your diet, such as spinach, legumes, beans, nuts, red meat, and dark chocolate.

Stress and sleep issues

If you have a history of tinnitus, it may be aggravated during your pregnancy because you stress more and sleep less. It’s not always easy to relax when you’re pregnant, but going for a short walk, doing some easy exercise or yoga, or listening to music that you like can go a long way.

Besides the constant noise in your ears from tinnitus, other side effects of tinnitus and hearing loss include sleeping problems, stress, headaches, poor mood, and anxiety. The first-time occurrence of tinnitus or the increase of existing tinnitus during pregnancy can be alarming. If you or someone you love is experiencing tinnitus or any kind of hearing issues during pregnancy, it’s important to consult an audiologist.

Something as quick and easy as a hearing evaluation can help you avoid or treat more severe issues such as hearing loss and give you peace of mind during this stressful but wonderful time.

Book an appointment for a hearing evaluation today!

About Dr. Marie Vetter-Toalson Au.D.

Dr. Marie Vetter-Toalson Au.D. is the owner of Chicago Hearing Services and a Doctor of Audiology dedicated to empowering her patients and the public with greater knowledge and education around hearing health.