I have been living with tinnitus for more than five years before I got pregnant. I have been having constant and low volume buzzing in my left ear and it gets amplified when I am in a quiet place or agitated. Tinnitus is the condition wherein one perceives noises like ringing, buzzing, whooshing and clanging in one or both ears without the presence of any external sound.
Often tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying condition and does not connote a sickness in itself. It is said to be caused by either, but not limited to, impacted earwax, ear infection, hearing loss, increased blood pressure, circulatory problems and diabetes. Curious to note, a bigger percentage of the tinnitus cases affect men ranging from the age of 27 to 72 years old. Most have been exposed to very loud noises or have carried jobs that expose them to constant loud noises.
In a recent study conducted by The Royal Institute of Deaf People, United Kingdom (RNID), tinnitus is also found to have affected women. Women are predisposed to suffer from tinnitus between the ages of 13 to 45 and can experience the condition when there is a shift and imbalance of hormones. The hormonal changes start during puberty and can be manifested during menstrual period, pregnancy and menopause.
About 67% of the women who have not had tinnitus experienced the condition on the onset of pregnancy. Around 62% of those who already have tinnitus prior to pregnancy report an increase in the condition upon pregnancy.
As so, on the onset of my third trimester in pregnancy, my tinnitus increased in frequency and volume. I didn’t think pregnancy was a factor, and I considered that my tinnitus was just getting worse. I had sleepless nights, terrible headaches and vertigo too.
My good friend Jane also suffers from tinnitus and as she was nearing her third trimester, she noticed that the noises also got a lot worse.
Pregnancy is almost always responsible for pulsating tinnitus and is often remedied after childbirth. A number of reasons have been pointed out as to why tinnitus is deemed to be aggravated during this phase of a woman’s life. One of which is the change that our body undergoes during gestation. During this period, our hormones fluctuate as major changes in our physical and emotional aspects can be observed.
During my pregnancy, my blood pressure was monitored starting at 20 weeks of my gestation. As my blood pressure increased, my tinnitus worsened. My ob-gynecologist pointed to a correlation between my blood pressure and my tinnitus. Every time my blood pressure shot up, my tinnitus increased in volume and frequency and the buzzing could be heard as whooshing. I have been told that this shift in noise is because of the pressure that can be felt by my blood vessels in my inner ear. The whooshing sound is the sound of blood flowing.
Additionally, the stress that women feel during this stage contributes to the worsening of our tinnitus. Pregnancy is not an easy time for us. It entails a lot of major emotional, mental and physical changes and the mere idea of being responsible for another life poses a major pressure on women. Though it is natural to be experiencing such thoughts and feelings, it is important that women during the course of pregnancy minimize the level of stress.
Remember to put emphasis on the health of your baby and your own health. Do away with the negative thoughts and create an atmosphere of love, relaxation and comfort. Continue taking your daily exercise, incorporate a healthy diet and don’t worry!
Stress and pregnancy may come hand in hand, and tinnitus often follows closely behind. So take control of your stress and you will manage your tinnitus without difficulty.