Millions of years ago, the world was quite a bit different. The long-necked Diplacusis wandered this volcano-laden landscape. Diplacusis was so big, due to its long tail and neck, that no other predators were a threat.
Actually, the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period is known as Diplodocus. When you’re hearing two sounds simultaneously, that’s a hearing condition known as diplacusis.
While it’s not a “terrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a terror on its own, resulting in a hearing experience that feels bewildering and out of sorts (frequently making communication challenging or impossible).
Perhaps your hearing has been a bit strange lately
Typically, we regard hearing loss as our hearing becoming muted or quiet over time. Over time, the idea is, we just hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well known, types of hearing loss. One of the most interesting (or, possibly, frustrating) such manifestations is a condition called diplacusis.
What is diplacusis?
So, what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical name diplacusis is simply “double hearing”. Normally, your brain takes signals from your right ear and signals from the left ear and marries them harmoniously into a single sound. This combined sound is what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. If you place a hand over your right eye and then a hand on your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? It’s the same with your ears, it’s just that usually, you don’t notice it.
When your brain can’t efficiently integrate the two sounds from your ears because they are too different, you have this condition of diplacusis. Monaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is due to hearing loss in both.
Diplacusis comes in two kinds
Different individuals are affected in different ways by diplacuses. Normally, though, people will experience one of the following two forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is mostly the same from ear to ear, but because of your hearing loss, the timing is out of whack. Artifacts similar to echoes can be the result. And understanding speech can become complicated because of this.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s a sign of this type of diplacusis. So when your grandchildren speak with you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. One side may sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can make those sounds difficult to understand.
Symptoms of diplacusis
The symptoms of diplacusis can include:
- Phantom echoes
- Off timing hearing
- Off pitch hearing
That said, it’s helpful to view diplacusis as akin to double vision: Yes, it can produce some symptoms on its own, but it’s usually itself a symptom of something else. (In other words, it’s the effect, not the cause.) In these circumstances, diplacusis is nearly always a symptom of hearing loss (either in one ear or in both ears). So your best course of action would be to make an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
What causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up very well, in a general way, with the causes of hearing loss. But you may develop diplacusis for a number of specific reasons:
- Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced hearing loss as a result of noise damage, it’s possible that it could cause diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to become inflamed. This swelling is a typical immune reaction, but it can impact how sound waves move through your inner ear (and therefore your brain).
- Earwax: In some instances, an earwax blockage can hinder your hearing. That earwax blockage can cause diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some extremely rare circumstances, tumors in your ear canal can result in diplacusis. But stay calm! They’re normally benign. But you still should consult with us about it.
As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same typical causes. Which means that if you have diplacusis, it’s a good bet something is impeding your ability to hear. Which means it’s a good idea to visit a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
Depending on the underlying cause, there are several possible treatments. If you have an obstruction, treating your diplacusis will center around clearing it out. However, diplacusis is frequently due to permanent sensorineural hearing loss. Here are some treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: The right pair of hearing aids can neutralize how your ears hear again. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will most likely disappear. You’ll want to speak with us about getting the right settings for your hearing aids.
- Cochlear implant: In cases where the hearing loss at the root of diplacusis is profound, a cochlear implant may be the only way to provide relief from the symptoms.
A hearing test is the first step to getting to the bottom of the problem. Here’s how you can think about it: whatever type of hearing loss is the source of your diplacusis, a hearing test will be able to establish that (perhaps you simply think things sound weird at this point and you don’t even identify it as diplacusis). Modern hearing assessments are very sensitive, and good at finding inconsistencies between how your ears hear the world.
Life is more fun when you can hear well
You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the correct treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or some other treatment. Talking with others will be easier. It will be easier to communicate with your family.
So there will be no diplacusis symptoms getting in the way of your ability to hear your grandchildren telling you all about the Diplodocus.
Call today for an appointment to have your diplacusis symptoms assessed.