Millions of years ago, the world was a lot different. The long-necked Diplacusis wandered this volcano-laden landscape. Thanks to its extra long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so large 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 called diplacusis.
Diplacusis is a condition which can be challenging and confusing causing difficulty with communication.
Maybe you’ve been hearing some unusual things
We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a sort of gradual lowering of the volume knob. Over time, the story goes, we just hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well known, forms of hearing loss. Diplacusis is one of the weirder, and also more frustrating, of these hearing conditions.
Diplacusis, what is it?
So, what’s diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical term that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Typically, your brain will blend 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. Your ears are the same, it’s just that typically, you don’t notice it.
When your brain can’t effectively integrate the two sounds from your ears because they are too different, you have this condition of diplacusis. Monaural diplacusis is a result of hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is due to hearing loss in both.
Two kinds of diplacusis
Diplacusis does not affect everybody in the same way. However, there are typically two basic types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: With this, what you hear will sound off because your brain gets the sound from each ear out of sync with the other instead of hearing two separate pitches. Artifacts like echoes can be the result. And understanding speech can become challenging as a result.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear don’t match it’s a sign of this type of diplacusis. 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 difficult to understand as a result.
Here are some symptoms of diplacusis:
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
- Off timing hearing
- Hearing that sounds off (in pitch).
Having said that, it’s useful to think of diplacusis as akin to double vision: Yes, it can develop some symptoms on its own, but it’s normally itself a symptom of something else. (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). As a result, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably make an appointment with a hearing specialist.
What causes diplacusis?
In a very basic sense (and probably not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up rather well with the causes of hearing loss. But you could experience diplacusis for a number of particular reasons:
- Noise-induced damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced enough loud noises to damage your hearing, it’s feasible that the same damage has led to hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even normal allergies can cause your ear canal to become inflamed. This swelling is a typical immune reaction, but it can influence how sound waves travel into your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
- Earwax: Your hearing can be impacted by an earwax obstruction. That earwax obstruction can cause diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some extremely rare circumstances, tumors in your ear canal can result in diplacusis. But remain calm! They’re usually benign. Nevertheless, it’s something you should talk to your hearing specialist about!
It’s clear that there are many of the same causes of diplacusis and hearing loss. Meaning that you likely have some degree of hearing loss if you’re experiencing diplacusis. Which means it’s a good idea to visit a hearing specialist.
How is diplacusis treated?
Depending on the main cause, there are several possible treatments. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will center around clearing it out. But permanent sensorineural hearing loss is more often the cause. In these cases, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: The right pair of hearing aids can equalize how your ears hear again. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you benefit from hearing aids. You’ll want to speak with us about finding the correct settings for your hearing aids.
- Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant may be the only way of managing diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.
All of this begins with a hearing exam. Think about it like this: whatever type of hearing loss is the cause of your diplacusis, a hearing exam will be able to establish that (and, to be fair, you may not even recognize it as diplacusis, you might just think things sound weird these days). Modern hearing assessments are really sensitive, and good at detecting inconsistencies between how your ears hear the world.
Hearing well is more fun than not
Getting the proper treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s a hearing aid or something else, means you’ll be more able to participate in your daily life. It will be easier to talk to people. It will be easier to stay in tune with your family.
So there will be no diplacusis symptoms getting in the way of your ability to hear your grandkids telling you all about the Diplodocus.
Call today for an appointment to have your diplacusis symptoms checked.