The world was extremely different millions of years ago. The long-necked Diplacusis roamed this volcano-laden landscape. Thanks to its really long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so large that it was afraid of no predator.
Actually, Diplodocus is the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period. When you’re hearing two sounds at the same time, that’s a hearing condition known as diplacusis.
Diplacusis is an affliction which can be challenging and confusing leading to difficulty communicating.
Perhaps your hearing has been a little strange lately
We’re used to regarding hearing loss as a kind of gradual decreasing of the volume knob. Over time, the idea is, we just hear less and less. But sometimes, hearing loss can manifest in some unusual ways. One of the most interesting (or, perhaps, frustrating) such manifestations is a condition called diplacusis.
What is diplacusis?
Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical term diplacusis is simply “double hearing”. Usually, your brain will blend 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 cover each eye one at a time. It’s the same with your ears, it’s just that usually, you never 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. You can develop diplacusis due to hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Two kinds of diplacusis
Different individuals are impacted in different ways by diplacuses. However, there are usually two basic forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is mostly the same from ear to ear, but due to your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. This may cause echoes (or, rather, artifacts that sound similar to echoes). And understanding speech can become difficult as a result.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s an indicator of this type of diplacusis. So the sound will be distorted when someone speaks with you. Perhaps your right ear hears the sound as low-pitched and your left ear thinks the sound is high-pitched. Those sounds can be hard to understand as a result.
Here are some symptoms of diplacusis:
- Phantom echoes
- Off pitch hearing
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
The condition of double vision might be a useful comparison: It’s usually a symptom of something else, but it can create some of its own symptoms. (It’s the effect, essentially, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these cases, is most likely a symptom of hearing loss. So your best strategy would be to make an appointment with us for a hearing test.
What causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up rather well, in a general sense, with the causes of hearing loss. But you may develop diplacusis for several specific reasons:
- Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced enough loud noises to damage your ears, it’s possible that the same damage has resulted in hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even normal allergies can cause your ear canal to swell. This swelling is a typical immune reaction, but it can impact the way sound waves travel into your inner ear (and therefore your brain).
- Earwax: In some instances, an earwax blockage can interfere with your ability to hear. That earwax obstruction can cause diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some very rare cases, tumors inside your ear canal can cause diplacusis. But remain calm! In most cases they’re benign. Still, it’s something you should talk to your hearing specialist about!
It’s clear that there are many of the same causes of diplacusis and hearing loss. Meaning that you most likely have some degree of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. So you should definitely come in and see us.
Treatments for diplacusis
The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the underlying cause. If you have an obstruction, treating your diplacusis will focus on clearing it out. However, diplacusis is frequently caused by irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. Here are some treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be neutralized with the right set of hearing aids. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will most likely fade. You’ll want to talk to 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.
All of this starts with a hearing assessment. Think about it like this: whatever type of hearing loss is the cause of your diplacusis, a hearing exam will be able to identify that (and, to be fair, you might not even recognize it as diplacusis, you might just think stuff sounds weird these days). Modern hearing tests are really sensitive, and good at detecting discrepancies between how your ears hear the world.
Hearing well is more fun than not
You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the appropriate treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or some other treatment. It will be easier to carry on conversations. Keeping up with your family will be easier.
Which means, you’ll be able to hear your grandkids tell you all about what a Diplodocus is, and you (hopefully) won’t have any diplacusis to impede you.
Call today for an appointment to have your diplacusis symptoms checked.