McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

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

How frequently do you think about your nervous system? Probably not all that regularly. Ordinarily, you wouldn’t have to worry about how your neurons are sending signals to the nerves in your body. But when those nerves start to misfire – that is when something fails – you begin to pay a lot more attention to your nervous system.

There’s one specific condition, known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, which can affect the nervous system on a fairly large scale, though the symptoms usually manifest primarily in the extremities. high-frequency hearing loss can also be the result of CMT according to some evidence.

What Is Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease?

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a set of inherited conditions. Effectively, these genetic disorders cause something to go wrong with your nerves or with the protective sheathing surrounding your nerves.

There is a problem with how impulses travel between your brain and your nerves. A loss of motor function and sensation can be the result.

A blend of genetic elements commonly results in the expression of symptoms, so CMT can be found in a number of varieties. Symptoms of CMT usually start in the feet and go up to the arms. And, high-frequency hearing loss, oddly, has a high rate of occurrence among those with CMT.

The Cochlear Nerve: A Link Between CMT and Hearing Loss

There’s always been an anecdotal link between hearing loss and CMT (meaning that within the CMT culture everyone has heard other people tell stories about it). And it was tough to grasp the connection between loss of sensation in the legs and problems with the ears.

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

The findings were rather conclusive. Low to moderate frequencies were heard nearly perfectly by those who had CMT. But all of the participants showed loss of hearing when it came to the high-frequency sounds (usually around the moderate levels). According to this research, it seems pretty likely that CMT can at least be linked to high-frequency hearing loss.

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

At first, it might be perplexing to attempt to identify the link between high-frequency hearing loss and CMT. But everything in your body, from your toes to your eyebrows, relies on the correct functioning of nerves. Your ears are no different.

What most researchers hypothesize happens is that the cochlear nerve is affected by the CMT – interfering with your ear’s ability to translate and transmit sounds in a high-frequency range. Anyone with this type of hearing loss will have difficulty hearing some sounds, and that includes people’s voices. Trying to understand voices in a crowded noisy room is particularly hard.

Hearing aids are usually used to manage this form of hearing loss. There’s no recognized cure for CMT. Modern hearing aids can provide tremendous help in terms of fighting the effects of high-frequency hearing loss, isolating only those ranges of sounds to boost. Additionally, most modern hearing aids can be adjusted to function well within noisy conditions.

Hearing Loss Can Have Several Causes

Further than the untested theory, it’s still uncertain what the link between high-frequency hearing loss and CMT is. But this form of hearing loss can be successfully managed with hearing aids. So scheduling an appointment to get a fitting for hearing aids will be a good decision for people who suffer from CMT.

There are a range of causes for hearing loss symptoms. Commonly, it’s a matter of loud noise contributing to damage to the ears. Obstructions can be yet another cause. It also appears that CMT is another possible cause.