How often do you think about your nervous system? Most likely not all that frequently. Ordinarily, you wouldn’t have to be concerned about how your neurons are communicating signals to the nerves in your body. But you tend to pay more attention when something goes wrong and the nerves begin to misfire.
There’s one specific condition, known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, which can influence the nervous system on a fairly large scale, though the symptoms usually manifest chiefly in the extremities. And there’s some evidence that implies that CMT can also cause high-frequency hearing loss.
What Is Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease?
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a set of inherited conditions. The protective sheathing surrounding the nerves fail to function properly due to a genetic condition.
The result is that the signals sent from your brain to those nerves (and from those nerves back to your brain) don’t progress all that well. Functionally, this can lead to both a loss in motor function and a loss of sensation.
A blend of genetic elements usually leads to the expression of symptoms, so CMT can be present in several variations. For the majority of people with CMT, symptoms start in the feet and can work their way up into their arms. And, oddly, among those who have CMT, there is a higher rate of occurrence of high-frequency hearing loss.
The Cochlear Nerve: A Connection Between CMT and Hearing Loss
The link between CMT and hearing loss has always been colloquially supported (that is, everybody knows somebody who has a story about it – at least within the CMT culture). And it seemed to mystify people who had CMT – the ear didn’t seem 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 scientists examined 79 people with CMT at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
The findings were rather conclusive. Low to moderate frequencies were heard nearly perfectly by those who had CMT. But high-frequency sounds (in the moderate region in particular) were easily heard by all of the individuals. high-frequency hearing loss, according to this research, is likely to be linked to CMT.
The Cause of Hearing Loss and How to Treat It
The link 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. That also goes for your ears.
The hypothesis is, CMT affects the cochlear nerve so noises in the high-frequency range aren’t able to be translated. Anybody with this form of hearing loss will have a hard time hearing specific sounds, including people’s voices. Trying to hear voices in a crowded noisy room is particularly hard.
This kind of hearing loss is normally managed with hearing aids. There’s no recognized cure for CMT. Modern hearing aids can isolate the precise frequencies to amplify which can give considerable help in fighting high-frequency hearing loss. The majority of modern hearing aids can also perform well in noisy settings.
There Can be Various Causes For Hearing Loss
Experts still aren’t completely sure why CMT and hearing loss seem to co-exist quite so frequently (above and beyond their untested theory). But this kind of hearing loss can be successfully addressed using hearing aids. So scheduling an appointment to get a fitting for hearing aids will be a good choice for people who suffer from CMT.
There are many causes for hearing loss symptoms. Often, it’s an issue of loud noise causing injury to the ears. Blockages can be another cause. It also looks as if CMT is another possible cause.