Mother Goes Deaf After Giving Birth, Hearing Later Restored After Otosclerosis Surgery
What was supposed to be a joyous day for Heather Simonsen turned terrifying when, according to a report from Utah's KSL, she lost her sense of hearing just after giving birth to her child.
At her doctor's recommendation, Simonsen went to see a surgeon at the University of Utah where she learned the cause of her sudden deafness: a rare condition known as Otosclerosis.
"I could tell they were talking to me, but I could not hear them at all," she told the station. "I could tell that they were speaking more loudly, but I could not understand what they were saying."
Otosclerosis is a condition involving an overgrowth of bone in the space behind the eardrum and the inner ear. Ringing in the ears and dizziness are other symptoms that often accompany the condition. Although the cause of otosclerosis is unknown, it occurs in women twice as often as in men, and usually between the ages of 11 and 30. Additionally, symptoms appear to get worse during pregnancy, a property of the condition that still puzzles doctors.
"We don't know why it happens more with pregnancy, but we have found a relation with, for whatever reason, in patients who already have the problem of hearing loss, it seems to be accelerated during pregnancy," University of Utah's Dr. Kevin Wilson told KSL.
According to the U.S. Library of Medicine, hearing aids can be used to treat otosclerosis, but a surgical treatment is also a available. In the procedure, a surgeon uses a laser to make a hole in the bone and replace it with a prosthetic.
While the surgery has a 90 percent success rate, there are some risks involved. Nevertheless, Simonsen opted to undergo the procedure. Afterwards, the new mother was again able to hear, including the voice of her newborn daughter.
"Even hearing her cry is wonderful because I know I can respond," Simonsen told KSL.
For expectant mothers concerned about the condition, a report in the Daily Mail recently identified two ways to test for the disorder: 1) a hearing test to determine the severity, and 2) a temporal-bone CT scan to rule out other possible causes of the hearing loss.
Click here to watch KSL's video report.
Stories of seemingly random changes in people's ability to hear are not entirely rare. Back in August, Robert Valderzak, 75, realized he could hear again just after an earthquake shook the Washington D.C. area.
"I said, you know, my hearing is back," Valderzak told My Fox DC at the time. "I can hear everything."
Valderzak's doctor said the restoration was likely because of the medication he was taking, combined with the quake shaking lose fluid that had built up inside his ears.