Millions of years ago, the world was much different. The long-necked Diplacusis wandered this volcano-laden landscape. Thanks to its extra long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so big that it was afraid of no predator.
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 known as diplacusis.
Diplacusis is an affliction which can be frustrating and confusing causing difficulty with communication.
Perhaps your hearing has been a bit 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 sometimes, hearing loss can manifest in some peculiar ways. One of the most fascinating (or, possibly, frustrating) such presentations is a condition called diplacusis.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical name diplacusis is simply “double hearing”. Typically, your brain gets information from the right ear and information from the left ear and joins them harmoniously 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 put your hand over each eye one at a time. Normally, with your ears, you don’t even 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 forms of diplacusis
Different individuals are affected differently by diplacuses. Normally, though, people will experience one of the following two forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is mostly the same from ear to ear, but because of your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. Artifacts similar to echoes can be the outcome. And understanding speech can become difficult because of this.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear don’t match it’s an indication of this form of diplacusis. So when your grandchildren talk to you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. One side might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can make those sounds difficult to make out.
Symptoms of diplacusis
Here are some symptoms of diplacusis:
- Phantom echoes
- Hearing that sounds off (in pitch).
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
That said, it’s helpful to think of diplacusis as similar to double vision: It’s normally a symptom of something else, but it can produce some of its own symptoms. (In other words, it’s the effect, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these cases, is most likely a symptom of hearing loss. So your best course of action would be to make an appointment with us for a hearing test.
What causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up quite well, in a general sense, with the causes of hearing loss. But there are some specific reasons why you could develop diplacusis:
- Earwax: Your hearing can be impacted by an earwax obstruction. Whether that earwax forms a partial or complete obstruction, it can cause diplacusis.
- Your ears have damage caused by noise: If you’ve experienced hearing loss due to noise damage, it’s possible that it could trigger diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to swell. This swelling, while a typical response, can impact the way sound travels through your inner ear and to your brain.
- A tumor: In some really rare situations, tumors in your ear canal can result in diplacusis. But remain calm! In most instances they’re benign. But you should still consult with us about it.
Obviously, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same typical causes. Which means that if you have diplacusis, it’s a good bet something is impeding your ability to hear. So you should definitely come in and talk to us.
How is diplacusis treated?
Depending on the main cause, there are several possible treatments. If you have an obstruction, treating your diplacusis will focus on clearing it out. But irreversible sensorineural hearing loss is more often the cause. In these cases, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be neutralized with the right pair of hearing aids. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. You’ll want to talk to us about finding the correct settings for your hearing aids.
- 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.
All of this starts with a hearing exam. Think about it this way: a hearing assessment will be able to identify 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 stuff sounds weird these days). Modern hearing tests are very sensitive, and good at finding inconsistencies between how your ears hear the world.
Life is more fun when you can hear clearly
You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the correct treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or something else. Talking with others will be easier. It will be easier to communicate 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 checked.