Do you spend much time thinking about your nervous system? Probably not all that regularly. As long as your body is working in the way that it is supposed to, you’ve no reason to consider how your neurons are firing or whether nerves are sending proper messages along the electrical pathways in your body. But when those nerves start to misfire – that is when something isn’t working properly – you begin to pay much more attention to your nervous system.
There’s one particular condition, known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, which can influence the nervous system on a relatively large scale, though the symptoms usually manifest chiefly in the extremities. And there’s some evidence that implies that CMT can also lead to high-frequency loss of hearing.
What Is Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease?
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a set of inherited disorders. The protective sheathing surrounding the nerves malfunction due to a genetic disorder.
This means that the impulses sent from your brain to those nerves (and from those nerves back to your brain) don’t travel all that well. Functionally, this can cause both a loss in motor function and a loss of sensation.
A mixture of genetic factors usually results in the expression of symptoms, so CMT can be present in a number of variations. For many people with CMT, symptoms start in the feet and go up into their arms. And, curiously, among those who have CMT, there is a higher rate of occurrence of high-frequency hearing loss.
A Link Between Loss of Hearing And CMT: The Cochlear Nerve
There has always been an anecdotal link between loss of hearing and CMT (which means that inside of the CMT community everybody has heard others tell stories about it). And it seemed to mystify people who had CMT – the ear didn’t appear all that related to the loss of sensation in the legs, for example.
A scientific study firmly established the connection just recently when a group of scientists evaluated 79 people with CMT at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
The results were quite conclusive. Low to moderate frequencies were heard almost perfectly by those with CMT. But high-frequency sounds (in the moderate region particularly) were easily heard by all of the participants. According to this research, it seems pretty likely that CMT can at least be connected to high-frequency hearing loss.
The Cause of Hearing Loss and How to Treat It
At first, it might be perplexing to attempt to recognize the link between high-frequency hearing loss and CMT. But everything in your body, from your eyebrows to your toes, relies on the correct functioning of nerves. That’s also the same for your ears.
The hypothesis is, CMT impacts the cochlear nerve so noises in the high-frequency range aren’t able to be translated. Some sounds, including some voices, will be hard to hear. Trying to hear voices in a crowded noisy room is especially difficult.
Hearing aids are usually used to deal with this form of hearing loss. CMT has no renowned cure. Modern hearing aids can provide tremendous help in terms of fighting the effects of high-frequency hearing loss, isolating only those ranges of sounds to boost. Most modern hearing aids can also work well in noisy settings.
There Can be Many Causes For Hearing Loss
Researchers still aren’t entirely sure why CMT and loss of hearing seem to co-exist quite so frequently (above and beyond their untested hypothesis). But this type of hearing loss can be effectively treated using hearing aids. So scheduling an appointment to get fitted for hearing aids will be a good decision for individuals who have CMT.
There are numerous causes for hearing loss symptoms. Commonly, it’s a matter of loud sound leading to injury to the ears. In other cases, hearing loss may be the result of an obstruction. It appears that CMT can be still another cause of hearing loss.