Millions of years ago, the world was a lot different. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis roamed. 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 simultaneously, 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, resulting in a hearing experience that feels bewildering and out of sorts (frequently making communication difficult or impossible).
Perhaps your hearing has been a little strange lately
Usually, we regard hearing loss as our hearing getting muted or quiet over time. According to this notion, over time, we just hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well recognized, types of hearing loss. One of the most fascinating (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 basically “double hearing”. Typically, your brain will blend the sound from your right and left ear into one sound. That’s what you hear. The same thing occurs with your eyes. You will see slightly different images if you cover each eye one at a time. Your ears are the same, it’s just that typically, you don’t notice it.
When your brain can’t effectively combine the two sounds from your ears because they are too different, you have this condition of diplacusis. You can experience diplacusis as a result of hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Diplicusis comes in two forms
Diplacusis does not affect everyone in the same way. Usually, though, people will experience one of the following two types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This form of diplacusis occurs when the pitch of the right ear and the pitch of the left ear seem off. So the sound will be distorted when someone speaks with you. One side may sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. Those sounds can be hard to understand as a result.
- 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 different pitches. Artifacts similar to echoes can be the outcome. And understanding speech can become difficult as a result.
Here are some symptoms of diplacusis:
- Off timing hearing
- Phantom echoes
- Hearing that sounds off (in pitch).
Having said that, it’s useful to view diplacusis as akin to double vision: It’s normally a symptom of something else, but it can create some of its own symptoms. (Essentially, it’s the effect, not the cause.) In these cases, 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 make an appointment with us.
What are the causes diplacusis?
In a very basic sense (and perhaps not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up quite well with the causes of hearing loss. But you could experience diplacusis for several specific reasons:
- Earwax: In some circumstances, an earwax obstruction can impede your ability to hear. Whether that earwax causes a partial or full blockage, it 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 effect the way sound moves through your inner ear and to your brain.
- 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 brought about hearing loss, and consequently, diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some very rare circumstances, tumors inside your ear canal can cause diplacusis. But remain calm! They’re normally benign. But you still should speak 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 interfering with your ability to hear. Which means you have a good reason to see a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
The treatments for diplacusis differ based on the underlying cause. If you have an obstruction, treating your diplacusis will center around clearing it out. However, diplacusis is often caused by permanent sensorineural hearing loss. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: The correct pair of hearing aids can equalize how your ears hear again. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you benefit from hearing aids. You’ll want to speak with us about getting the correct settings for your hearing aids.
- Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant may be the only way of dealing with diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.
All of this begins with a hearing exam. Here’s how you can think about it: whatever kind of hearing loss is the source of your diplacusis, a hearing exam will be able to establish that (and, to be fair, you might not even recognize it as diplacusis, you may just think things sound weird these days). We have really sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any inconsistencies with how your ears are hearing the world will be found.
Life is more fun when you can hear clearly
Getting the right treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s a hearing aid or some other treatment option, 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 think you have diplacusis and want to have it checked, call today for an appointment.