The world was extremely different millions of years ago. The long-necked Diplacusis roamed 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 at the same time, that’s a hearing condition known as diplacusis.
While it’s not a “horrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a menace 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 little weird lately
Usually, we regard hearing loss as our hearing getting muted or quiet over time. Over time, the story goes, we simply hear less and less. But in some cases, hearing loss can manifest in some peculiar ways. Diplacusis is one of the stranger, and also more frustrating, of these hearing problems.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical term diplacusis is simply “double hearing”. Typically, your brain gets information from the right ear and information from the left ear and joins them harmoniously into a single sound. This combined sound is what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. If you put a hand over your right eye and then a hand over your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? Normally, with your ears, you don’t even notice it.
When your brain can’t efficiently merge 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
Diplacusis does not impact everyone in the same way. Usually, though, people will experience one of the following two forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This form of diplacusis happens when the pitch of the right ear and the pitch of the left ear are hearing sound as two different pitches. 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 hears the sound as high-pitched. This can cause those sounds to be difficult to make out.
- Diplacusis echoica: With this, what you hear will sound off because your brain receives the sound from each ear out of sync with the other rather than hearing two separate pitches. This may cause echoes (or, rather, artifacts that sound similar to echoes). This can also cause difficulty when it comes to understanding speech.
The symptoms of diplacusis could include:
- Hearing that seems off (in pitch).
- Phantom echoes
- Off timing hearing
The condition of double vision could be a helpful comparison: It’s usually a symptom of something else, but it can produce some of its own symptoms. (In other words, it’s the effect, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these circumstances, is most likely a symptom of hearing loss. So your best strategy would be to make an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
What are the causes diplacusis?
In a very general sense (and probably not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis align quite nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But there are some particular reasons why you could develop diplacusis:
- Earwax: Your hearing can be impacted by an earwax obstruction. Whether that earwax forms a partial or full obstruction, it can cause diplacusis.
- An infection: Swelling of your ear canal can be the consequence of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This inflammation is a normal immune reaction, but it can influence how sound waves move through your inner ear (and therefore your brain).
- Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced hearing loss as a result of noise damage, it’s feasible that it could trigger diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some very rare situations, tumors in your ear canal can result in diplacusis. Don’t panic! In most instances they’re benign. Nevertheless, it’s something you should talk to your hearing specialist about!
As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same common causes. This means that if you have diplacusis, it’s a good bet something is impeding your ability to hear. So you should absolutely come in and talk to us.
How is diplacusis treated?
Depending on the main cause, there are a few possible treatments. If your condition is the result of an obstruction, like earwax, then treatment will focus on the removal of that obstruction. But permanent sensorineural hearing loss is more often the cause. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: The right set of hearing aids can neutralize how your ears hear again. Your diplacusis symptoms will gradually fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. You’ll want to consult us about getting the correct settings for your hearing aids.
- Cochlear implant: In cases where the hearing loss at the root of diplacusis is profound, a cochlear implant might be the only way to provide relief from the symptoms.
All of this begins with a hearing exam. Think about it this way: whatever kind of hearing loss is the cause of your diplacusis, a hearing test will be able to identify that (and, to be fair, you may not even recognize it as diplacusis, you may just think stuff sounds weird these days). We have really sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any discrepancies with how your ears are hearing the world will be detected.
Hearing well is more fun than not
You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the proper treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or something else. Conversations will be easier. 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 get in the way.
Call today for an appointment to get your diplacusis symptoms assessed.