Do you spend much time thinking about your nervous system? Probably not all that frequently. As long as your body is working as it is supposed to, you have no reason to consider how your neurons are firing or whether nerves are sending proper messages through the electrical corridors of your body. But when those nerves begin to misfire – that is when something fails – you begin to pay a lot more attention to your nervous system.
There’s one particular disease, called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, which can impact the nervous system on a relatively large scale, though the symptoms normally manifest primarily 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. The protective sheathing around the nerves malfunction due to a genetic disorder.
There is a problem with how signals move between your brain and your nerves. A loss in motor function and sensation can be the result.
A mixture of genetic elements typically leads to the manifestation of symptoms, so CMT can be present in a number of variations. For most people who have CMT, symptoms begin 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.
A Link Between Loss of Hearing And CMT: The Cochlear Nerve
The link between CMT and hearing loss has always been colloquially supported (that is, everybody knows someone who has a tells about it – at least inside of the CMT culture). 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 researchers evaluated 79 people with CMT at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
The results were rather conclusive. Almost everyone with CMT passed their low and moderate frequency hearing assessments with flying colors. But high-frequency sounds (in the moderate region in particular) were effortlessly heard by all of the participants. Based on this study, it seems probable that CMT can at least be connected to high-frequency loss of hearing.
What is The Cause of Hearing Loss And How Can it be Treated?
The connection between high-frequency hearing loss and CMT may, at first, seem perplexing. But all of your body, from your toes to your eyebrows, relies on the correct functioning of nerves. Your ears are exactly the same.
What many researchers hypothesize happens 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. Some sounds, including some voices, will be hard to hear. In particular, make out voices in crowded or noisy rooms can be a real challenge.
This kind of hearing loss is normally treated with hearing aids. CMT has no known cure. Modern hearing aids can select the exact frequencies to amplify which can provide appreciable help in battling high-frequency hearing loss. Additionally, most modern hearing aids can be calibrated to function well inside of noisy settings.
There Could be Various Causes For Hearing Loss
Researchers still aren’t completely sure why CMT and hearing loss seem to co-exist quite so frequently (above and beyond their untested theory). But hearing aid technology provides a definite treatment for the symptoms of that loss of hearing. That’s why countless people who have CMT will take the time to get a consultation with a hearing care specialist and get fitted for a custom hearing aid.
Hearing loss symptoms can develop for many reasons. Often, it’s a matter of loud sound leading to injury to the ears. Obstructions can be yet another cause. It turns out that CMT can be still another cause of loss of hearing.