The world was very different millions of years ago. The long-necked Diplacusis wandered this volcano-laden landscape. 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 called Diplodocus. Diplacusis is a hearing condition that causes you to hear two sounds instead of one.
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 (often making communication difficult or impossible).
Maybe you’ve been hearing some odd things
Usually, we think of hearing loss as our hearing becoming muted or quiet over time. Over time, the story goes, we just hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well recognized, types of hearing loss. Diplacusis is one of the weirder, and also more frustrating, of these hearing conditions.
What is diplacusis?
So, what’s diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical name that means, basically, “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. Your eyes are doing the same thing. If you place a hand over your right eye and then a hand on 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 differ so wildly that your brain can no longer combine them, at least not very well. You can experience diplacusis due to hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Two types of diplacusis
Diplacusis does not impact everybody in the same way. Normally, though, individuals will experience one of the following two forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is mostly the same from ear to ear, but due to your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. This might cause echoes (or, instead, artifacts that sound like echoes). And understanding speech can become complicated as a result.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s an indicator of this form of diplacusis. 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.
The symptoms of diplacusis could include:
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
- Off pitch hearing
- Off timing hearing
The condition of double vision might be a useful comparison: It’s usually a symptom of something else, but it can produce some of its own symptoms. (Essentially, it’s the effect, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these cases, is most likely a symptom of hearing loss. Consequently, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably make an appointment with us.
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 specific reasons:
- An infection: Inflammation of your ear canal can be the outcome of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This swelling is a typical immune reaction, but it can influence how sound waves move through your inner ear (and subsequently 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 cause diplacusis.
- Earwax: Your ability to hear can be impacted by an earwax obstruction. Whether that earwax causes a partial or complete blockage, it can lead to diplacusis.
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare instances, be the result of a tumor inside of your ear canal. But stay calm! They’re usually benign. But you still should speak with us about it.
It’s clear that there are a number of the same causes of diplacusis and hearing loss. Which means that if you have diplacusis, it’s likely that something is interfering with your ability to hear. So you should definitely come in and talk to us.
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. But permanent sensorineural hearing loss is more often the cause. In these situations, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be equalized with the correct pair of hearing aids. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you benefit from hearing aids. It’s essential to get the correct settings on your hearing aids and you’ll want to have us assist you with that.
- Cochlear implant: In cases 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.
A hearing exam is the first step to getting it all figured out. Here’s how you can think about it: 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 very sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any inconsistencies with how your ears are hearing the world will be detected.
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 capable of participating in your daily life. It will be easier to carry on conversations. Keeping up with your family will be easier.
Which means, you’ll be able to hear your grandchildren tell you all about what a Diplodocus is, and you (hopefully) won’t have any diplacusis to impede you.
Call today for an appointment to get your diplacusis symptoms assessed.