The world was very different millions of years ago. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis roamed. Diplacusis was so large, due to its long tail and neck, that no other predators were a threat.
Actually, the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period is called Diplodocus. When you’re hearing two sounds simultaneously, that’s a hearing condition called diplacusis.
Diplacusis is a condition which can be challenging and confusing leading to difficulty with communication.
Perhaps your hearing has been a little weird lately
We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a sort of gradual lowering of the volume knob. Over time, the story goes, we simply hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well recognized, forms of hearing loss. Diplacusis is one of the stranger, and also more frustrating, of these hearing problems.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical term that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Typically, your brain gets information from the right ear and information from the left ear and joins them harmoniously into a single sound. This combined sound is what you hear. The same thing happens with your eyes. If you put 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 happens when the hearing abilities of your ears differ so significantly that your brain can no longer merge them, at least not well. Monaural diplacusis is a result of hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in both.
Diplacusis comes in two kinds
Different people are affected differently by diplacuses. However, there are usually two basic forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s an indicator of this type 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 make those sounds difficult to understand.
- Diplacusis echoica: This occurs when the pitch is mostly 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 as a result.
The symptoms of diplacusis can include:
- Off pitch hearing
- Hearing that sounds off (in timing).
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
The condition of double vision might be a helpful comparison: Yes, it can produce some symptoms on its own, but it’s normally itself a symptom of something else. (It’s the effect, essentially, 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?
In a very general sense (and probably not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis align rather nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But there are some particular reasons why you might develop diplacusis:
- Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced enough loud noises to damage your ears, it’s possible that the same damage has resulted in hearing loss, and consequently, diplacusis.
- An infection: Inflammation of your ear canal can be the consequence of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This inflammation, while a natural response, can impact the way sound moves through your inner ear and to your brain.
- Earwax: In some instances, an earwax blockage can impede your ability to hear. That earwax blockage can trigger diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some very rare cases, tumors inside your ear canal can result in diplacusis. Don’t panic! They’re usually benign. Still, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!
Obviously, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same common causes. Meaning that you most likely have some level of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. Which means it’s a good idea to see a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
Depending on the root cause, there are several possible treatments. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will focus on clearing it out. However, diplacusis is frequently caused by irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. 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 gradually fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. You’ll want to consult us about finding 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 may be the only way to provide relief from the symptoms.
All of this starts with a hearing test. Think about it like this: 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 may 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 detected.
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 communicate 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, call today for an appointment.