Millions of years ago, the world was quite a bit different. The long-necked Diplacusis wandered this volcano-laden landscape. Thanks to its extra 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 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, causing a hearing experience that feels confusing and out of sorts (frequently making communication challenging or impossible).
Perhaps your hearing has been a bit strange lately
We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a kind of progressive decreasing of the volume knob. Over time, the idea is, we simply hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well recognized, forms of hearing loss. Diplacusis is one of the weirder, and also more frustrating, of these hearing problems.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical name diplacusis is basically “double hearing”. Typically, your brain gets information from the right ear and information from the left ear and joins them harmoniously into one sound. That’s what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. If you put 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 typically, 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. Monaural diplacusis is a result of hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in both.
Two types of diplacusis
Diplacusis does not impact everyone in the same way. However, there are typically two basic forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is nearly the same from ear to ear, but due to your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. Artifacts similar to 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 don’t match it’s an indication of this form 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. Those sounds can be difficult to understand as a result.
Symptoms of diplacusis
The symptoms of diplacusis can include:
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
- Off pitch hearing
That said, it’s helpful to think of diplacusis as similar to double vision: It’s usually a symptom of something else, but it can create some of its own symptoms. (In other words, it’s the effect, not the cause.) In these cases, 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 Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
What causes diplacusis?
In a very basic sense (and perhaps not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis align rather well with the causes of hearing loss. But you may develop diplacusis for numerous specific reasons:
- Earwax: In some instances, an earwax obstruction can hinder your ability to hear. That earwax obstruction can lead to diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even normal allergies can cause your ear canal to become inflamed. This swelling, while a standard response, can impact the way sound travels through your inner ear and to your brain.
- Noise-induced damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced enough loud sounds to damage your hearing, it’s feasible that the same damage has brought about hearing loss, and consequently, diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some extremely rare circumstances, tumors inside your ear canal can cause diplacusis. But remain calm! In most instances they’re benign. But you should still consult with us about it.
As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same common causes. Which means that if you’re experiencing diplacusis, it’s likely that something is impeding your ability to hear. So you should definitely come in and see us.
Treatments for diplacusis
The treatments for diplacusis differ based on the underlying cause. If your condition is related to an obstruction, such as earwax, then treatment will focus on the removal of that obstruction. However, diplacusis is often caused by permanent sensorineural hearing loss. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be equalized with the correct pair of hearing aids. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will most likely fade. 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 might 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. Think about it this way: whatever type of hearing loss is the cause of your diplacusis, a hearing test will be able to establish 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 found.
Life is more fun when you can hear well
Getting the proper treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s a hearing aid or something else, means you’ll be more able to participate in your daily life. It will be easier to carry on conversations. Keeping up with your family will be easier.
So there will be no diplacusis symptoms getting in the way of your ability to hear your grandkids telling you all about the Diplodocus.
If you believe you have diplacusis and want to get it checked, give us a call for an appointment.