This Disease Can Lead to Hearing Loss

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

How often do you think about your nervous system? For the majority of people, the answer would most likely be not that often. As long as your body is performing in the way that it is supposed to, you’ve no reason to consider how your neurons are firing or whether nerves are sending proper messages through the electrical pathways in your body. But you will take a closer look when something goes wrong and the nerves start to misfire.

There’s one specific disease, called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, which can influence the nervous system on a pretty large scale, though the symptoms usually manifest chiefly in the extremities. And there’s some evidence that implies that CMT can also lead to high-frequency loss of hearing.

What Is Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease?

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a set of inherited disorders. The protective sheathing surrounding the nerves fail to function properly 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 work all that well. Functionally, this can result in both a loss in motor function and a loss of sensation.

CMT can be present in several variations and a combination of genetic considerations usually lead to its expressions. For most people with CMT, symptoms start in the feet and can work their way up into their arms. And, high-frequency hearing loss, strangely, has a high rate of occurrence among those with CMT.

A Link Between Loss of Hearing And CMT: The Cochlear Nerve

There has always been an anecdotal connection between loss of hearing and CMT (meaning that within the CMT culture everybody has heard other people talk about it). And it seemed to confuse people who suffered from 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 conclusive. Almost everyone with CMT passed their low and moderate frequency hearing tests with flying colors. But high-frequency sounds (in the moderate region particularly) were effortlessly heard by all of the individuals. Based on this study, it seems pretty likely that CMT can at least be connected to high-frequency hearing loss.

What is The Cause of Hearing Loss And How Can it be Addressed?

The connection between high-frequency loss of hearing and CMT might, at first, seem puzzling. Like all other parts of your body rely on correctly functioning nerves. Your ears are no different.

The theory is, CMT impacts the cochlear nerve so noises in the high-frequency range aren’t able to be translated. Anybody with this kind of hearing loss will have a hard time hearing certain sounds, and that includes peoples voices. Notably, make out voices in crowded or noisy rooms can be a real obstacle.

This kind of hearing loss is usually managed with hearing aids. There’s no known cure for CMT. Modern hearing aids can isolate the exact frequencies to boost which can offer significant assistance in battling high-frequency hearing loss. Most modern hearing aids can also perform well in noisy environments.

Hearing Loss Can Have Several Causes

Experts still aren’t entirely sure why CMT and loss of hearing seem to co-exist quite so frequently (above and beyond their untested hypothesis). But hearing aid tech provides a definite treatment for the symptoms of that hearing loss. That’s why countless individuals 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 surface for numerous reasons. In some instances, hearing loss is triggered by undesirable exposure to harmful noises. Obstructions can be another cause. It also looks like CMT is another possible cause.