Ringing in ears, tinnitus and pregnancy

This article delves into the potential causes of tinnitus in pregnant women, examining factors such as the role of high blood pressure, a common occurrence during pregnancy. Understanding the link between pregnancy and tinnitus can provide valuable insights for expectant mothers seeking information and guidance regarding this auditory condition during this unique phase of life.

Can pregnancy cause tinnitus?

Tinnitus, colloquially known as ringing in the ears, is a condition where an individual perceives sounds like ringing, beeping, or throbbing that are not audible to others. The noise may be faint or loud, occurring in one or both ears, and may feel like a sensation within the head. While some experience temporary episodes, others endure constant sounds. Some find tinnitus manageable, while for others, it can be distressing, impacting their quality of life. Interestingly, it is more frequently reported by women, and recent studies indicate a higher likelihood of tinnitus occurrence during pregnancy

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Why does tinnitus happen during pregnancy?

The onset of tinnitus during pregnancy is commonly attributed to heightened blood pressure and hormonal fluctuations, particularly an increase in the hormone progesterone.

For pregnant women encountering symptoms of tinnitus, maintaining a calm disposition is crucial to prevent subjecting the fetus to undue stress. The importance of remaining calm is underscored by the understanding that hormonal fluctuations, a primary trigger for tinnitus during pregnancy, are likely to stabilise post-childbirth. The following parapraphs delve into the different causes of tinnitus during pregnancy:

High blood pressure

Elevated blood pressure poses a significant risk factor for hearing loss and tinnitus during pregnancy, as the delicate inner ears are highly responsive to changes in blood flow. In some instances, tinnitus experienced by pregnant women may synchronize with the rhythm of their pulse or heartbeat, a phenomenon known as pulsatile tinnitus. Women undergoing this condition may describe a sensation of muffled hearing accompanied by a pronounced whooshing sound. Given the proximity of numerous blood vessels to the ears, it is understandable why tinnitus may manifest as an indicator of heightened blood pressure. 

Iron-deficiency anemia

Pregnant women face an increased risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia, a condition crucial for the transportation of oxygen by red blood cells, including to the auditory system. Insufficient iron intake during pregnancy can lead to various symptoms, including hearing problems. While the relationship between anemia and hearing impairment, including tinnitus, is documented in studies focused on older adults, the specific mechanisms remain not fully understood. To address this, pregnant women are advised to ensure their prenatal vitamin contains sufficient iron, considering the body's heightened iron requirements during pregnancy. Additionally, incorporating iron-rich foods into the diet, such as spinach, legumes, turkey, red meat, broccoli, and dark chocolate, may contribute to reducing symptoms like ringing in the ears, providing a holistic approach to managing auditory issues during pregnancy.

Headaches or migraines

The susceptibility to headaches during pregnancy poses an additional risk factor for the development of tinnitus or hearing problems, including hyperacusis (sound sensitivity). The increased incidence of headaches during pregnancy further compounds the potential for these auditory issues. For individuals experiencing migraines, pregnancy may exacerbate the condition, potentially leading to hearing loss, tinnitus, or muffled hearing, particularly during migraine episodes. It is crucial for expectant mothers facing frequent headaches or migraines to communicate this to their healthcare provider.

Colds that lead to sinus or ear infections

During pregnancy, the immune system undergoes temporary suppression, making expectant mothers more susceptible to colds, viruses, and allergy symptoms. The increased risk of contracting colds is significant as these infections can lead to sinus or middle ear infections, potentially causing temporary hearing issues that may necessitate treatment. To mitigate the risk of infections during pregnancy, maintaining a focus on healthy food choices, regular intake of prenatal vitamins, ensuring adequate sleep, and avoiding contact with visibly unwell individuals are advisable precautions. Prevention through these measures becomes paramount, as safeguarding against colds and viruses is often more effective than attempting to treat the associated complications, including potential impacts on hearing and the occurrence of tinnitus.

Stress and poor sleep

The heightened stress levels often experienced during pregnancy, coupled with the physical impact of conditions such as high blood pressure, can exacerbate hearing-related issues. For individuals with a pre-existing history of tinnitus, the condition may be further aggravated due to persistent stress and insufficient sleep. The challenges of planning for a baby can make it challenging to relax, but adopting stress-reducing activities such as outdoor walks, meditation exercises, deep breathing practices, or receiving a massage may offer relief. Prioritizing relaxation techniques during pregnancy can be beneficial not only for overall well-being but also in mitigating the impact of stress-related factors on tinnitus symptoms.

TMJ disorder

The prevalence of TMJ disorder, characterized by jaw clicking and pain, tends to be higher among pregnant women due to hormonal changes, swelling, and increased stress levels. This form of tinnitus, known as somatic tinnitus, is linked to problems in the jaw joint that can generate pressure in the ear, causing a sensation of clogged ears. If there is suspicion that TMJ disorder may be contributing to tinnitus, consulting a dentist after ruling out other medical causes is advisable. Simple oral devices provided by a dentist may help realign the jaw, potentially improving both the tinnitus symptoms and the sensation of clogged ears. 


Numerous medications, commonly taken during pregnancy, have been associated with potential side effects such as hearing loss, tinnitus, and dizziness. Over-the-counter pain relievers and specific blood pressure medications, often considered routine in pregnancy, are among the medications that may contribute to the onset of tinnitus. Pregnant women must exercise caution and consult with healthcare professionals before taking any medications to ensure that potential risks to auditory health are carefully considered. 

Symptoms of tinnitus during pregnancy

Tinnitus symptoms during pregnancy can encompass a range of auditory sensations, including persistent ringing in the ears. Pregnant women may also experience variations in the intensity and frequency of these sounds, coupled with heightened sensitivity to noise. Hormonal fluctuations, particularly an increase in progesterone, and elevated blood pressure are often associated with the onset of tinnitus during pregnancy. It is important for expectant mothers to be aware of these symptoms, as they can contribute to feelings of discomfort or distress. Seeking guidance from healthcare professionals is advisable to accurately diagnose the underlying causes and implement appropriate management strategies.

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Stress and anxiety during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a delicate moment and it can bring heightened stress and anxiety, impacting women's well-being. These pressures, combined with hormonal changes, may lead to persistent worries and fears. Notably, stress and anxiety can bring tinnitus, causing individuals to perceive ringing in their ears. The connection lies in physical changes like increased blood pressure and elevated glutamate levels, intensifying tinnitus perception. It becomes essential for expectant mothers to manage stress and anxiety, not only for their overall well-being but also to mitigate the impact on auditory experiences during this significant phase of life.

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Remedies against tinnitus with anxiety

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To manage tinnitus during pregnancy it's crucial to avoid unnecessary stress, here are some tips:

  • Maintaining serenity not only benefits expectant mothers and their babies but also reduces the likelihood of tinnitus. It is advisable to adopt relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditaton or outdoor activities.
  • Adopting a healthier lifestyle with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, coupled with increased water intake, contributes to overall well-being. 
  • Additionally, easing tinnitus discomfort involves listening to playlists featuring white noise or nature sounds, which not only mask the ringing but also have a calming effect on the baby

Can tinnitus appear after pregnancy?

While tinnitus is commonly associated with pregnancy due to hormonal fluctuations and increased blood pressure, it can also potentially appear after pregnancy. Postpartum tinnitus may be linked to a range of factors such as hormonal shifts during the postpartum period, sleep deprivation, and heightened stress levels that often accompany the demands of caring for a newborn. Additionally, factors like changes in blood flow, fatigue, or any underlying health conditions may contribute to the onset of tinnitus after pregnancy. It's essential for individuals experiencing postpartum tinnitus to seek professional medical advice to determine the specific causes and appropriate management strategies. Understanding the potential triggers and seeking timely intervention can contribute to effective relief and an improved overall well-being for new mothers.

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Stay informed about hearing health and potential hearing conditions by reading our blog articles. Discover the topics that cover various aspects of hearing health, from preventive measures to understanding potential conditions. 

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Pulsatile tinnitus and pregnancy

Can pregnancy cause pulsatile tinnitus? Throughout pregnancy, pulsatile tinnitus stands out as one of the most common types of tinnitus. It produces a noise reminiscent of blood flow in the head or ears, described as thumping, whooshing, or even resembling one's own heartbeat. This occurrence is associated with increased blood volume and heightened blood pressure levels experienced by pregnant women.

Treatment for pulsatile tinnitus during pregnancy

During pregnancy, managing tinnitus can be supported through a holistic approach that prioritizes a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Ensuring adequate hydration, with a daily intake of at least one and a half liters of mineral water, along with the incorporation of minerals, vitamins, and food supplements, contributes to overall well-being, including healthy hearing. In addition to dietary considerations, the use of sound aids like sound balls, sound bars, or sound pillows can be beneficial. These aids produce relaxing sounds, including white noise, which can help alleviate or eliminate the bothersome noises associated with tinnitus during pregnancy, fostering a sense of relaxation and comfort. It is advisable for expectant mothers to consult healthcare professionals for personalized guidance on lifestyle adjustments and suitable interventions to manage tinnitus symptoms during this significant period.

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