How often do you think about your nervous system? Most likely not all that regularly. Usually, you wouldn’t have to worry about how your neurons are communicating messages to the nerves of your body. But you tend to take a closer look when something isn’t working right and the nerves start to misfire.
There’s one specific condition, known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, which can affect the nervous system on a relatively large scale, though the symptoms usually manifest mainly in the extremities. And there’s some evidence to suggest that CMT can also cause high-frequency loss of hearing.
Charot-Marie-Tooth Disease, What is it?
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a set of inherited disorders. The protective sheathing surrounding the nerves malfunction due to a genetic disorder.
There is an issue with the way impulses move between your brain and your nerves. A loss of motor function and sensation can be the outcome.
A mixture of genetic factors usually leads to the appearance of symptoms, so CMT can be found in a few varieties. Symptoms of CMT commonly begin in the feet and work their way up to the arms. And, curiously, among those who have CMT, there is a higher rate of occurrence of high-frequency hearing loss.
The Cochlear Nerve: A Link Between CMT and Hearing Loss
There has always been an anecdotal link between loss of hearing and CMT (meaning that within the CMT culture everyone has heard other people tell stories about it). And it seemed to mystify people who had CMT – the ear didn’t appear very related to the loss of feeling in the legs, for example.
A scientific study firmly established the connection just recently when a group of researchers examined 79 people with CMT at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
The results were quite decisive. Almost everyone with CMT passed their low and moderate frequency hearing exams with flying colors. But all of the individuals showed loss of hearing when it came to the high-frequency sounds (usually across the moderate levels). Based on this research, it seems probable that CMT can at least be connected to high-frequency loss of hearing.
The Cause of Hearing Loss and How to Treat It
The connection between high-frequency loss of hearing and CMT could, at first, seem perplexing. Like all other parts of your body rely on properly functioning nerves. Your ears are no different.
What the majority of researchers hypothesize occurs is that the cochlear nerve is impacted by the CMT – interfering with your ear’s ability to translate and transmit sounds in a high-frequency range. Anybody with this type of hearing loss will have a hard time hearing certain sounds, including people’s voices. Trying to understand voices in a crowded noisy room is especially hard.
This kind of hearing loss is usually managed with hearing aids. There’s no recognized cure for CMT. Modern hearing aids can provide tremendous help in terms of overcoming the effects of high-frequency hearing loss, selecting only those ranges of sounds to boost. Most modern hearing aids can also do well in loud settings.
There Could be Many Causes For Hearing Loss
Experts still aren’t entirely certain why CMT and loss of hearing seem to co-exist quite so frequently (above and beyond their untested hypothesis). But this kind of hearing loss can be efficiently managed with hearing aids. That’s why lots of individuals who have CMT will take the time to sit down with a hearing specialist and get a fitting for a custom hearing aid.
Hearing loss symptoms can occur for numerous reasons. Frequently, it’s an issue of loud sound causing damage to the ears. Blockages can be yet another cause. It also looks like CMT is another possible cause.