Hearing Health Blog

Image of a neural disease that would cause high-frequency hearing loss.

How often do you think about your nervous system? For most individuals, the answer would most likely be not that frequently. Generally, you wouldn’t have to be concerned about how your neurons are sending signals to the nerves of your body. But you tend to pay more attention when something fails and the nerves start to misfire.

There’s one particular disease, called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, which can affect the nervous system on a pretty large scale, though the symptoms usually 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 conditions. The protective sheathing surrounding the nerves malfunction due to a genetic disorder.

This means that the signals 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 feeling.

CMT can be found in several variations and a mixture of genetic factors normally lead to its expressions. Symptoms of CMT normally start in the feet and go up to the arms. And, oddly, 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 Loss of Hearing

There’s always been an anecdotal connection between hearing loss and CMT (meaning that inside of the CMT culture everyone has heard others talk about it). And it was hard to understand the link between loss of sensation in the legs and problems with the ears.

A scientific study firmly established the connection just recently when a group of researchers examined 79 people with CMT at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

The results were quite conclusive. Almost everyone who has CMT passed their low and moderate frequency hearing tests with flying colors. But all of the individuals showed hearing loss when it came to the high-frequency sounds (usually around the moderate levels). high-frequency hearing loss, according to this research, is likely to be linked to CMT.

The Cause of Hearing Loss and How to Treat It

The connection between high-frequency loss of hearing and CMT could, 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 most 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. Some sounds, including some voices, will be difficult to hear. Trying to hear voices in a crowded noisy room is particularly difficult.

Hearing aids are commonly used to manage this form of hearing loss. CMT has no known cure. Modern hearing aids can provide significant assistance in terms of overcoming the effects of high-frequency loss of hearing, selecting only those ranges of sounds to boost. Most modern hearing aids can also work well in loud environments.

Hearing Loss Can Have Many Causes

Researchers still aren’t entirely sure why CMT and loss of hearing seem to co-exist quite so frequently (above and beyond their untested theory). But this kind of hearing loss can be effectively treated with hearing aids. So making an appointment to get fitted for hearing aids will be a smart decision for individuals who suffer from CMT.

Hearing loss symptoms can develop for numerous reasons. Frequently, it’s an issue of loud noise contributing to damage to the ears. Blockages can be yet another cause. It also looks like CMT is another possible cause.

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