The world was very different millions of years ago. The long-necked Diplacusis wandered this volcano-laden landscape. Diplacusis was so large, thanks 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. Diplacusis is a hearing affliction that causes you to hear two sounds at the same time.
While it’s not a “horrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a terror on its own, resulting in a hearing experience that feels bewildering and out of sorts (often making communication challenging or impossible).
Perhaps your hearing has been a bit strange lately
We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a sort of progressive 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 peculiar ways. One of the most interesting (or, perhaps, frustrating) such manifestations is a condition called diplacusis.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical name that means, basically, “double hearing”. Typically, your brain will blend the sound from your right and left ear into a single sound. That’s what you hear. The same thing happens with your eyes. If you put a hand over your right eye and then a hand over your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? Your ears are the same, it’s just that usually, you don’t notice it.
Diplacusis happens when the hearing abilities of your ears vary 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.
Two forms of diplacusis
Different people are impacted in different ways by diplacuses. Usually, though, individuals will experience one of the following two forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: With this, what you hear will sound off because your brain receives the sound from each ear out of sync with the other rather than hearing two different pitches. This might cause echoes (or, rather, artifacts that sound similar to echoes). This can also cause challenges in terms of understanding speech.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This type of diplacusis happens 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 as a result.
The symptoms of diplacusis can include:
- Off pitch hearing
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
- Hearing that sounds off (in timing).
Having said that, it’s helpful to view diplacusis as akin to double vision: It’s usually a symptom of something else, but it can produce some of its own symptoms. (It’s the effect, essentially, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these circumstances, is probably a symptom of hearing loss. So your best strategy would be to make an appointment with us for a hearing test.
What causes diplacusis?
In a very basic sense (and maybe not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis align rather nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But you may experience diplacusis for a number of particular reasons:
- Earwax: In some instances, an earwax obstruction can interfere with your ability to hear. That earwax obstruction can lead to diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to swell. This swelling, while a natural response, can impact the way sound travels through your inner ear and to your brain.
- Noise-induced damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced enough loud sounds to damage your hearing, it’s feasible that the same damage has led to hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some really rare instances, tumors in your ear canal can cause diplacusis. Don’t panic! In most cases they’re benign. But you still should consult with us about it.
As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same typical causes. This means that if you have diplacusis, it’s a good bet something is interfering with your ability to hear. Which means you have a good reason to visit a hearing specialist.
How is diplacusis treated?
The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the underlying cause. If your condition is related to an obstruction, like earwax, then treatment will focus on the removal of that obstruction. But irreversible sensorineural hearing loss is more frequently the cause. In these cases, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be neutralized with the correct set of hearing aids. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will most likely disappear. It’s important to get the correct settings on your hearing aids and you’ll want to have us assist you with that.
- Cochlear implant: In circumstances 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.
A hearing exam is the first step to getting it all figured out. Think about it this way: whatever kind of hearing loss is the source of your diplacusis, a hearing exam will be able to establish that (maybe you just think things sound strange at this point and you don’t even recognize it as diplacusis). Modern hearing tests are very sensitive, and good at finding inconsistencies between how your ears hear the world.
Hearing clearly is more fun than not
You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the proper treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or some other treatment. It will be easier to carry on conversations. It will be easier to stay in tune with your family.
So there will be no diplacusis symptoms interfering with your ability to hear your grandkids telling you all about the Diplodocus.
Call today for an appointment to have your diplacusis symptoms assessed.