Do you invest much time thinking about your nervous system? Most likely not all that regularly. Normally, you wouldn’t have to worry about how your neurons are communicating messages to the nerves in your body. But you will take a closer look when something fails and the nerves begin to misfire.
There’s one specific condition, called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, which can affect the nervous system on a pretty large scale, though the symptoms usually manifest mainly in the extremities. And there’s some evidence that implies that CMT can also cause high-frequency hearing loss.
Charot-Marie-Tooth Disease, What is it?
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a set of inherited disorders. Effectively, these genetic disorders cause something to go wrong with your nerves or with the protective sheathing around your nerves.
There is an issue with the way signals travel between your brain and your nerves. Functionally, this can cause both a loss in motor function and a loss of sensation.
A blend of genetic elements typically results in the expression of symptoms, so CMT can be found in a few varieties. For many people who have CMT, symptoms begin in the feet and go up into their arms. And, strangely, 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’s always been an anecdotal link between hearing loss and CMT (meaning that inside of the CMT culture everyone has heard other people talk about it). And it seemed to confuse people who had CMT – the ear didn’t seem all that 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 decisive. Low to moderate frequencies were heard nearly perfectly by those who had CMT. But high-frequency sounds (in the moderate region in particular) were effortlessly heard by all of the participants. According to this study, it seems pretty likely that CMT can at least be associated with high-frequency loss of hearing.
The Cause of Hearing Loss and How to Treat It
The connection between high-frequency hearing loss and CMT may, at first, seem puzzling. But all of your body, from your toes to your eyebrows, relies on the proper functioning of nerves. That also goes for your ears.
The theory is, CMT impacts the cochlear nerve so sounds in the high-frequency range aren’t able to be translated. Certain sounds, including some voices, will be difficult to hear. Trying to hear voices in a crowded noisy room is especially difficult.
This form of hearing loss is normally managed with hearing aids. There’s no known cure for CMT. Modern hearing aids can isolate the exact frequencies to boost which can provide significant help in fighting high-frequency hearing loss. The majority of modern hearing aids can also perform well in loud environments.
Many Factors Behind Hearing Loss
Beyond the untested hypothesis, it’s still not well understood what the link between high-frequency hearing loss and CMT is. But hearing aid tech offers a definite solution to the symptoms of that hearing loss. That’s why lots of people with CMT will take the time to get a consultation with a hearing care specialist and get a fitting for a custom hearing aid.
There are numerous causes for hearing loss symptoms. Often, it’s a matter of loud sound resulting in damage to the ears. In other situations, loss of hearing could be the result of an obstruction. It also appears that CMT is another possible cause.