Millions of years ago, the world was quite a bit different. The long-necked Diplacusis wandered this volcano-laden landscape. Thanks to its really long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so big that it was afraid of no predator.
Actually, Diplodocus is the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period. When you’re hearing two sounds simultaneously, that’s a hearing condition called diplacusis.
While it’s not a “terrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a terror on its own, leading to a hearing experience that feels bewildering and out of sorts (frequently making communication difficult or impossible).
Perhaps your hearing has been a bit strange lately
Usually, we think of hearing loss as our hearing getting muted or quiet over time. Over time, the story goes, we simply hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well known, types of hearing loss. One of the most fascinating (or, possibly, frustrating) such manifestations is a condition called diplacusis.
What is diplacusis?
So, what’s diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical name that means, basically, “double hearing”. Usually, your brain will mix the sound from your right and left ear into one sound. That’s what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. You will see slightly different images if you put your hand over each eye one at a time. Your ears are the same, it’s just that usually, you don’t notice it.
When your brain can’t effectively integrate the two sounds from your ears because they are too different, you have this condition of diplacusis. Monaural diplacusis is a result of hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in both.
Diplacusis comes in two forms
Diplacusis does not affect everybody in the same way. Normally, though, individuals will experience one of the following two types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is nearly the same from ear to ear, but because of your hearing loss, the timing is out of whack. Artifacts like echoes can be the outcome. And understanding speech can become difficult because of this.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s a sign of this form of diplacusis. So when your grandchildren talk to you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. One side might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. Those sounds can be difficult to understand as a result.
Here are a few symptoms of diplacusis:
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
- Phantom echoes
- Hearing that seems off (in pitch).
That said, it’s helpful to think of diplacusis as akin to double vision: Yes, it can produce some symptoms on its own, but it’s normally itself a symptom of something else. (Essentially, it’s the effect, not the cause.) In these circumstances, diplacusis is almost always a symptom of hearing loss (either in one ear or in both ears). Consequently, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist.
What are the causes diplacusis?
In a very general sense (and perhaps not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up rather nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But you could develop diplacusis for a number of specific reasons:
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to swell. This swelling, while a normal response, can impact the way sound moves through your inner ear and to your brain.
- Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced enough loud sounds to damage your ears, it’s possible that the same damage has resulted in hearing loss, and consequently, diplacusis.
- Earwax: In some instances, an earwax obstruction can impede your hearing. That earwax obstruction can cause diplacusis.
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare cases, be caused by a tumor in your ear canal. Don’t panic! They’re normally benign. But you still should talk to us about it.
Obviously, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same typical causes. Meaning that you likely have some degree of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. Which means it’s a good idea to visit a hearing specialist.
How is diplacusis treated?
The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the root cause. If your condition is caused by a blockage, like earwax, then treatment will focus on the removal of that obstruction. However, diplacusis is frequently brought on by permanent sensorineural hearing loss. In these cases, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be neutralized with the correct set of hearing aids. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will most likely fade. You’ll want to consult us about finding the right settings for your hearing aids.
- Cochlear implant: In circumstances where the hearing loss at the root of diplacusis is profound, a cochlear implant might be the only way to get relief from the symptoms.
All of this starts with a hearing test. Think about it like this: whatever kind of hearing loss is the source of your diplacusis, a hearing exam will be able to identify that (perhaps you just think things sound weird at this point and you don’t even recognize it as diplacusis). Modern hearing tests are very sensitive, and good at finding discrepancies between how your ears hear the world.
Life is more fun when you can hear clearly
Getting the proper treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s a hearing aid or some other treatment option, means you’ll be more capable of participating in your daily life. It will be easier to talk to people. It will be easier to communicate with your family.
So there will be no diplacusis symptoms interfering with your ability to hear your grandkids telling you all about the Diplodocus.
Call today for an appointment to have your diplacusis symptoms assessed.