Millions of years ago, the world was quite a bit different. The long-necked Diplacusis roamed this volcano-laden landscape. Thanks to its extra long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so large that it feared 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 called diplacusis.
While it’s not a “terrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a terror on its own, leading to a hearing experience that feels confusing and out of sorts (frequently making communication challenging or impossible).
Perhaps your hearing has been a little weird lately
We’re used to regarding hearing loss as a sort of gradual lowering of the volume knob. According to this notion, over time, we just hear less and less. But sometimes, hearing loss can manifest in some unusual ways. Diplacusis is one of the weirder, and also more frustrating, of these hearing problems.
What is diplacusis?
Exactly what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical term that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Usually, your brain will combine the sound from your right and left ear into one sound. This combined sound is what you hear. The same thing happens with your eyes. If you put a hand on 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.
Diplacusis occurs when the hearing abilities of your ears vary so wildly that your brain can no longer blend them, at least not very well. You can develop diplacusis due to hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Diplacusis comes in two forms
Different people are affected in different ways by diplacuses. Normally, though, individuals will experience one of the following two types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: With this, what you hear will seem off because your brain receives the sound from each ear out of sync with the other instead of hearing two separate pitches. Artifacts like echoes can be the outcome. And understanding speech can become challenging as a result.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s an indication of this form of diplacusis. So the sound will be distorted when somebody talks to you. One side might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. Those sounds can be difficult to understand consequently.
The symptoms of diplacusis can include:
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
- Hearing that seems off (in pitch).
The condition of double vision may be a useful comparison: It’s normally a symptom of something else, but it can produce some of its own symptoms. (In other words, 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). So your best course of action would be to Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
What causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up very well, in a general sense, with the causes of hearing loss. But you could experience diplacusis for several particular reasons:
- Earwax: In some circumstances, an earwax obstruction can impede your hearing. That earwax obstruction can trigger diplacusis.
- Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced hearing loss caused by noise damage, it’s feasible that it could trigger diplacusis.
- An infection: Swelling of your ear canal can be the result of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This swelling, while a standard response, can impact the way sound travels through your inner ear and to your brain.
- A tumor: In some really rare circumstances, tumors inside your ear canal can cause diplacusis. But remain calm! In most cases they’re benign. But you still should speak with us about it.
Obviously, 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. Which means you have a good reason to see a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
Depending on the main cause, there are a few possible treatments. If your condition is related to a blockage, such as earwax, then treatment will concentrate on the removal of that obstruction. However, diplacusis is frequently brought on by irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. In these cases, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: The right pair of hearing aids can neutralize how your ears hear again. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. It’s essential to get the correct settings on your hearing aids and you’ll need to have us help you with that.
- 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. Here’s how you can think about it: a hearing test will be able to establish what type of hearing loss is at the root of your diplacusis (and, to be fair, you might not even recognize it as diplacusis, you may just think things sound weird these days). We have extremely 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 proper 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. Conversations will be easier. 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 believe you have diplacusis and want to get it checked, give us a call for an appointment.