Hearing Loss and Genetics - Do They Share Anything

Genetics and Otolaryngology seldom come to mind as sharing any relation with each other, given the fact that genetics play a crucial role in almost every type of health condition in one way or the other.

While many patients fail to realise it but conditions as mundane as hearing loss too have a genetic basis. As a matter of fact, estimates state that almost half of all patients dealing with hearing loss owe this condition of theirs to genetics rather than the environmental factors. Nowadays, genetic testing is done to diagnose the hearing loss cause.

The Genetic Hearing Loss

A genetic hearing loss presents itself in three forms, which are chromosomal, monogenic, and complex. A chromosomal disorder is caused when large segments of either one or more chromosomes happen in just one copy, or in more than the concerned two copies. Down syndrome can be called the most common example of it.

Monogenic or single-gene disorder is the one that is caused by mutation in a single gene, and most of the hearing loss cases can be placed into this category. The complex genetic disorders on the other end are caused by the interaction of many genes, environment, and other random factors. A genetic hearing test helps in diagnosing the condition in a better way.

How is the genetic testing done?

Genetic hearing test is quite straightforward. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid) possess two properties making the hearing test easy. One counts for DNA making copies of itself easily, and other is the copies sticking to each other.

For an example, if you begin with double strand of DNA and heat it, the two strands will separate into a mix of single-stranded nucleic acid strands. This mixture can be then cooled down and the complementary strands stick back together again. This lets a type of process called polymearase chain reaction (PCR) to work. A method which is used to amplify the targeted sequences of DNA.

Currently, genetic technologies are widely used as a diagnostic tool and the focus primarily remains on disorders that are caused by the major genes. And for a hearing test, this technology saves both time and money.

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