Do you spend much time thinking about your nervous system? Probably not all that frequently. Generally, you wouldn’t have to be concerned about how your neurons are communicating messages to the nerves of your body. But when those nerves begin to misfire – that is when something goes wrong – you tend to pay a lot more attention to your nervous system.
There’s one specific condition, called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, which can affect the nervous system on a relatively large scale, though the symptoms usually manifest chiefly in the extremities. And there’s some evidence to suggest that CMT can also cause high-frequency loss of hearing.
What Is Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease?
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a set of inherited disorders. The protective sheathing around the nerves malfunction due to a genetic disorder.
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 in motor function and sensation can be the result.
CMT can be present in numerous varieties and a mixture of genetic considerations normally lead to its expressions. For many people with CMT, symptoms begin in the feet and can work their way up into their arms. And, high-frequency hearing loss, curiously, has a high rate of occurrence in those who have CMT.
The Cochlear Nerve: A Link Between CMT and Loss of Hearing
There’s always been an anecdotal connection between loss of hearing and CMT (which means that within the CMT culture everyone has heard others tell stories about it). And it seemed to mystify people who had CMT – the ear didn’t seem all that related to the loss of feeling in the legs, for example.
The connection was firmly established by a scientific study just recently when a group of researchers examined 79 people with CMT at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
The findings were quite decisive. Low to moderate frequencies were heard nearly perfectly by those with CMT. But high-frequency sounds (in the moderate region in particular) were easily heard by all of the participants. high-frequency hearing loss, according to this study, is likely to be linked to CMT.
The Cause of Hearing Loss and How to Treat It
At first, it might be perplexing to attempt to recognize the connection between high-frequency hearing loss and CMT. Like all other parts of your body rely on correctly functioning nerves. That’s also the same for your ears.
What the majority of researchers hypothesize occurs is that the cochlear nerve is affected by the CMT – interfering with your ear’s ability to interpret and transmit sounds in a high-frequency range. Anybody with this form of hearing loss will have a hard time hearing certain sounds, including people’s voices. Trying to understand voices in a crowded noisy room is particularly difficult.
This form of hearing loss is commonly treated with hearing aids. CMT has no renowned cure. Modern hearing aids can select the exact frequencies to boost which can give significant assistance in battling high-frequency hearing loss. Most modern hearing aids can also do well in noisy settings.
Hearing Loss Can Have Several Causes
Researchers still aren’t completely certain why CMT and hearing loss seem to co-exist quite so frequently (above and beyond their untested hypothesis). But this kind of hearing loss can be efficiently managed using hearing aids. So scheduling an appointment to get fitted for hearing aids will be a smart decision for people who have CMT.
Hearing loss symptoms can surface for several reasons. In many cases, hearing loss is brought about by excess exposure to damaging sounds. In other circumstances, hearing loss might be the result of an obstruction. It turns out that CMT can be still another reason for loss of hearing.