Millions of years ago, the world was much different. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis wandered. Diplacusis was so large, thanks to its long tail and neck, that no other predators were a threat.
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 “terrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a menace on its own, causing a hearing experience that feels bewildering and out of sorts (frequently making communication difficult or impossible).
Perhaps your hearing has been a little weird lately
We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a kind of gradual decreasing 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. One of the most interesting (or, possibly, frustrating) such presentations is a condition called diplacusis.
What is diplacusis?
Exactly what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical name that means, basically, “double hearing”. Typically, your brain will mix the sound from your right and left ear into one sound. That’s what you hear. The same thing occurs with your eyes. 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 won’t even notice it.
When your brain can’t efficiently merge the two sounds from your ears because they are too different, you have this condition of diplacusis. You can experience diplacusis due to hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Diplacusis comes in two types
Diplacusis does not impact everybody in the same way. Usually, though, individuals will experience one of the following two types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: This occurs when the pitch is nearly the same from ear to ear, but due to your hearing loss, the timing is out of whack. Artifacts similar to echoes can be the result. This can also cause difficulty in terms of understanding speech.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This kind of diplacusis occurs 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 might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. Those sounds can be hard to understand consequently.
The symptoms of diplacusis can include:
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
- Off pitch hearing
- Phantom echoes
The condition of double vision may be a helpful comparison: 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 circumstances, diplacusis is nearly always a symptom of hearing loss (either in one ear or in both ears). As a result, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist.
What are the causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up rather well, in a general sense, with the causes of hearing loss. But you may develop diplacusis for numerous particular reasons:
- Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced enough loud sounds to damage your ears, it’s feasible that the same damage has led to hearing loss, and consequently, diplacusis.
- Earwax: In some instances, an earwax blockage can interfere with your hearing. That earwax obstruction can trigger diplacusis.
- An infection: Swelling of your ear canal can be the result of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This inflammation is a typical immune response, but it can impact the way sound waves travel into your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare situations, be the result of a tumor in your ear canal. Don’t panic! In most cases they’re benign. But you should still consult with us about it.
As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same typical causes. Meaning that you most likely have some degree of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. Which means you have a good reason to visit a hearing specialist.
How is diplacusis treated?
The treatments for diplacusis differ based on the underlying cause. If your condition is caused by a blockage, like earwax, then treatment will focus on the removal of that blockage. However, diplacusis is often brought on by irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. In these cases, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: The correct pair of hearing aids can equalize how your ears hear again. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will most likely fade. 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: A cochlear implant might be the only way of managing diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.
All of this begins with a hearing test. Think about it like this: a hearing test will be able to determine what kind of hearing loss is at the root of your diplacusis (and, to be fair, you may not even recognize it as diplacusis, you might just think stuff sounds weird these days). We have extremely sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any inconsistencies with how your ears are hearing the world will be found.
Hearing clearly is more fun than not
You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the appropriate treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or something else. It will be easier to talk to people. 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 impede you.
Call today for an appointment to have your diplacusis symptoms checked.