The world was very different millions of years ago. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis roamed. Thanks to its extra long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so big that it was afraid of no predator.
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.
Diplacusis is an affliction which can be frustrating and confusing causing difficulty communicating.
Perhaps your hearing has been a little strange lately
We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a kind of progressive decreasing of the volume knob. Over time, the story goes, we just hear less and less. But in some cases, hearing loss can manifest in some unusual ways. One of the most interesting (or, possibly, frustrating) such manifestations is a condition called diplacusis.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical term that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Usually, your brain will mix the sound from your right and left ear into one sound. This combined sound is 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. Normally, with your ears, you won’t even notice it.
Diplacusis occurs when the hearing abilities of your ears vary so wildly that your brain can no longer combine them, at least not very well. Monaural diplacusis is a result of 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 differently by diplacuses. Normally, 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 when your grandkids speak with you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. One side may sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can cause those sounds to be hard 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 instead of hearing two different pitches. Artifacts like echoes can be the result. This can also cause difficulty with regard to understanding speech.
The symptoms of diplacusis can include:
- Off timing hearing
- Off pitch hearing
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
The condition of double vision may be a helpful comparison: Yes, it can produce some symptoms on its own, but it’s normally itself a symptom of something else. (Essentially, it’s the effect, not the cause.) In these circumstances, diplacusis is almost always a symptom of hearing loss (either in one ear or in both ears). As a result, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably make an appointment with a hearing specialist.
What are the causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up very well, in a general sense, with the causes of hearing loss. But there are some particular reasons why you could develop diplacusis:
- Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced enough loud sounds to damage your ears, it’s feasible that the same damage has brought about hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
- An infection: Swelling of your ear canal can be the outcome of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This inflammation is a typical immune response, but it can impact how sound waves move through your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
- Earwax: Your hearing can be impacted by an earwax obstruction. That earwax blockage can trigger diplacusis.
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare situations, be caused by a tumor in your ear canal. Don’t panic! They’re usually benign. Still, it’s something you should talk to your hearing specialist about!
It’s obvious that there are many of the same causes of hearing loss and diplacusis. Which means that if you’re experiencing diplacusis, it’s likely that something is interfering with your ability to hear. Which means it’s a good idea to see a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
The treatments for diplacusis differ based on the underlying cause. If your condition is caused by a blockage, such as earwax, then treatment will focus on the removal of that obstruction. But permanent sensorineural hearing loss is more often the cause. Here are some treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: The correct set of hearing aids can neutralize how your ears hear again. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. You’ll want to speak with us about getting the correct settings for your hearing aids.
- Cochlear implant: In circumstances where the hearing loss at the root of diplacusis is profound, a cochlear implant may be the only way to get relief from the symptoms.
All of this begins with a hearing assessment. 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 determine that (and, to be fair, you might not even recognize it as diplacusis, you may just think stuff sounds weird these days). Modern hearing assessments are quite sensitive, and good at finding discrepancies 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 something else. It will be easier to carry on conversations. It will be easier to stay in tune with your family.
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.
If you think you have diplacusis and want to get it checked, call today for an appointment.