Do you spend much time considering your nervous system? For most individuals, the answer would probably be not very frequently. As long as your body is performing in the way that it is supposed to, you have no reason to consider how your neurons are firing or whether nerves are sending correct messages through the electrical corridors in your body. But you tend to pay more attention when something isn’t working right and the nerves start to misfire.
There’s one particular condition, called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, which can impact the nervous system on a pretty large scale, though the symptoms normally manifest primarily in the extremities. And there’s some evidence that implies that CMT can also lead to high-frequency hearing loss.
Charot-Marie-Tooth Disease, What is it?
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a set of inherited conditions. In essence, these genetic disorders cause something to go wrong with your nerves or with the protective sheathing around your nerves.
As a result, the signals sent from your brain to those nerves (and from those nerves back to your brain) don’t progress all that well. A loss of motor function and sensation can be the outcome.
A mix of genetic factors commonly results in the expression of symptoms, so CMT can be found in a few variations. For the majority of people who have CMT, symptoms start in the feet and go 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 Loss of Hearing
There has always been an anecdotal link between loss of hearing and CMT (which means that within the CMT culture everyone has heard other people talk about it). And it seemed to confuse people who suffered from CMT – the ear didn’t seem very related to the loss of sensation in the legs, for example.
The connection was firmly established by a scientific study just recently when a group of scientists examined 79 people with CMT at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
The results were rather conclusive. Almost everyone who has CMT passed their low and moderate frequency hearing assessments with flying colors. 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 study, is likely to be linked to CMT.
The Cause of Hearing Loss and How to Deal With It
The connection between high-frequency loss of hearing and CMT might, at first, seem perplexing. Like every other part of your body relies on correctly functioning nerves. Your ears are the same.
The theory is, CMT affects the cochlear nerve so sounds in the high-frequency range aren’t able to be translated. Some sounds, including some voices, will be difficult to hear. In particular, make out voices in crowded or noisy rooms can be a real obstacle.
This type of hearing loss is normally managed with hearing aids. CMT has no known cure. Modern hearing aids can select the precise frequencies to amplify which can give significant help in fighting high-frequency hearing loss. Also, most modern hearing aids can be adjusted to function well in noisy conditions.
Hearing Loss Can Have Several Causes
Beyond the unconfirmed theory, it’s still uncertain what the relationship between high-frequency hearing loss and CMT is. But hearing aid tech offers an obvious solution to the symptoms of that hearing loss. That’s why lots of people with CMT will take the time to sit down with a hearing care professional and get fitted for a custom hearing aid.
Hearing loss symptoms can surface for a wide variety of reasons. In some cases, loss of hearing is triggered by undesirable exposure to harmful noises. Obstructions can be yet another cause. It also appears that CMT is another possible cause.