Tinnitus and Pregnancy

In April 2022 it was an honour to be asked to be the panellist on the BTA’s tinnitus and pregnancy webinar.

Tinnitus is Pregnancy

  • Tinnitus is most common ear complaint in pregnancy.
  • Affects over 1 in 3 women.
  • 2 out of 3 women who have tinnitus before pregnancy report an increase in their tinnitus during pregnancy.
  • Tinnitus often resolves or reduces after delivery.
  • 33% of pregnant women suffer from pulsatile (heartbeat) tinnitus.

If Tinnitus appears/changes

  • Report it to your midwife or GP.
  • Have appropriate management and monitoring.
  • You may need a referral on for appropriate investigations if necessary e.g. ENT

Reasons why tinnitus appears/worsens

  • Physical changes in the body
  • Being stress
  • Being tired

Physical Changes

  • Blood Pressure & increase in circulating blood volume.
  • Natural retention of salts and water that occur during pregnancy.
  • Natural changes in circulating levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
  • Colds that lead to sinus or ear infections.
  • Iron-Deficiency Anaemia
  • Medication.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Early warning sign of gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia

Reasons for being stressed

General stress and increase of environment awareness.

Tinnitus often first appears in people who are under significant stress. Pregnancy is a very stressful time . It is time of both physical and emotional demands. The body is changing. You’re growing a complete individual. Humans also have a  survival mechanism which goes back to at least the days of the prehistoric humans. When you’re pregnant, your senses are often hyper-sensitive. Touch and hearing are often more pronounced.

The first time occurrence of tinnitus during pregnancy or the increase of existing tinnitus can be alarming. So if you start hearing a ringing in your ears, it is possible that you may have always had tinnitus and only became aware of it because the hyper awareness &/ stress you are under.

Tips for reducing stress

  • Relaxation techniques.
  • TMJ (jaw joint exercise).
  • Cut back on activities you don’t need to do.
  • Ask your significant other(s) to help with chores.
  • Prenatal yoga or meditation.
  • Practise mindfulness.
  • Get enough rest and sleep.
  • Avoid the (not)Morning Sickness
  • Try complementary therapies.
  • Talk about your mental health.
  • Eat well.
  • Get more exercise.
  • Learn what to expect during labour.
  • Reduce your stress levels on your daily commute.
  • Help the heartburn.

Reasons for trouble sleep

  • Feeling hot in pregnancy: It’s normal. This is due to hormonal changes and an increase in blood supply to the skin. You’re also likely to sweat more. 
  • Restless legs syndrome : This is when you feel an overwhelming urge to move your legs. Symptoms are more noticeable in the third trimester and might make it difficult for you to relax and fall asleep.
  • Heartburn
  • Un-comfortability in sleeping position
  • The worry factor including fears about the birth which is called Tokophobia.

A healthy bedtime routine checklist

  • Take up gentle exercise during the day.
  • Avoid caffeine a couple of hours before bed.
  • Avoid drinking fluids a couple of hours before bed (but this does increase the chance of leg cramps).
  • Reduce activity before sleep/do relaxation
  • Helping the heartburn – raise your head by 10-15cm
  • Go to the loo to empty your bladder before you get into bed.
  • Wear light clothing from natural fibres to avoid getting too hot.
  • Use a pillow to support your bump or legs and lie on your side.
  • Use a worry journal.

You can purchase and watch the webinar from the BTA website