The world was extremely different millions of years ago. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis wandered. Diplacusis was so big, due 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 at the same time, that’s a hearing condition called diplacusis.
Diplacusis is an affliction which can be challenging and confusing resulting in difficulty with communication.
Perhaps you’ve been hearing some unusual things
We’re accustomed to regarding hearing loss as a sort of progressive lowering of the volume knob. According to this idea, over time, we simply hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well known, types of hearing loss. Diplacusis is one of the stranger, and also more frustrating, of these hearing conditions.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical term diplacusis is basically “double hearing”. Typically, your brain will combine the sound from your right and left ear into a single sound. This combined sound is what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. If you place a hand on your right eye and then a hand over 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 vary so significantly that your brain can no longer merge them, at least not well. You can experience diplacusis because of the hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Two kinds of diplacusis
Different individuals are affected differently by diplacuses. However, there are usually two basic types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: This occurs when the pitch is mostly the same from ear to ear, but because of your hearing loss, the timing is out of whack. This may cause echoes (or, rather, artifacts that sound like echoes). And understanding speech can become difficult because of this.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This form 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 the sound will be distorted when someone talks to you. One side may sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can cause those sounds to be hard to make out.
Here are a few symptoms of diplacusis:
- Off timing hearing
- Phantom echoes
- Off pitch hearing
That said, it’s useful to view diplacusis as similar to double vision: Yes, it can produce some symptoms on its own, but it’s usually itself a symptom of something else. (In other words, it’s the effect, not the cause.) In these cases, 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 make an appointment with a hearing specialist.
What causes diplacusis?
In a very general sense (and probably not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up rather well with the causes of hearing loss. But you may develop diplacusis for numerous specific reasons:
- Earwax: In some circumstances, an earwax obstruction can hinder your hearing. Whether that earwax causes a partial or complete blockage, it can cause diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to swell. This inflammation, while a natural response, can effect the way sound travels through your inner ear and to your brain.
- Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced hearing loss caused by noise damage, it’s possible that it could trigger diplacusis.
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare situations, be caused by a tumor inside of your ear canal. But stay calm! In most cases they’re benign. Still, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!
It’s obvious that there are many of the same causes of hearing loss and diplacusis. Which means that if you have diplacusis, it’s a good bet something is impeding your ability to hear. Which means it’s a good idea to see a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the underlying cause. If your condition is related to a blockage, like earwax, then treatment will focus on the removal of that blockage. However, diplacusis is often caused by irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. Here are some treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: The correct set of hearing aids can neutralize how your ears hear again. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will most likely fade. You’ll want to speak with us about finding the correct settings for your hearing aids.
- Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant might be the only way of dealing with diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.
All of this starts with a hearing test. Think about it this way: a hearing exam will be able to identify what type of hearing loss is at the source of your diplacusis (and, to be fair, you might not even recognize it as diplacusis, you might just think stuff sounds weird these days). Modern hearing tests are really sensitive, and good at finding inconsistencies between how your ears hear the world.
Hearing well 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 something else. Conversations will be easier. Keeping up with your family will be easier.
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.
If you think you have diplacusis and want to have it checked, give us a call for an appointment.