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 big that it feared no predator.
Actually, the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period is called Diplodocus. 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 terror on its own, causing a hearing experience that feels confusing and out of sorts (frequently making communication challenging or impossible).
Perhaps you’ve been hearing some unusual things
Typically, we think of hearing loss as our hearing getting muted or quiet over time. Over time, the story goes, we just 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 problems.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical term diplacusis is simply “double hearing”. Normally, your brain gets signals from your right ear and signals from the left ear and joins them harmoniously into one sound. That’s 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. Usually, with your ears, you don’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. Monaural diplacusis is a result of hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in both.
Diplacusis comes in two forms
Diplacusis doesn’t impact everyone in the same way. 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 due to your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. This could cause echoes (or, rather, artifacts that sound like echoes). And understanding speech can become complicated as a result.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This kind of diplacusis occurs when the pitch of the right ear and the pitch of the left ear seem off. So the sound will be distorted when somebody speaks with you. One side may sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can cause those sounds to be difficult to understand.
Symptoms of diplacusis
The symptoms of diplacusis can include:
- Phantom echoes
- Off timing hearing
- Hearing that sounds off (in pitch).
The condition of double vision might be a helpful comparison: It’s usually a symptom of something else, but it can create some of its own symptoms. (It’s the effect, essentially, not the cause.) In these cases, diplacusis is nearly always a symptom of hearing loss (either in one ear or in both ears). Consequently, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably schedule an appointment with us.
What are the causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up rather well, in a general sense, with the causes of hearing loss. But there are some specific reasons why you could develop diplacusis:
- An infection: Inflammation of your ear canal can be the result of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This inflammation is a typical immune reaction, but it can influence how sound waves move through your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
- Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced enough loud noises to damage your ears, it’s feasible that the same damage has resulted in hearing loss, and consequently, diplacusis.
- Earwax: In some instances, an earwax blockage can interfere with your ability to hear. Whether that earwax causes a partial or complete blockage, it can lead to diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some very rare circumstances, tumors in your ear canal can result in diplacusis. Don’t panic! They’re usually benign. Nevertheless, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!
As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same typical causes. Meaning that you probably have some level of hearing loss if you’re experiencing diplacusis. Which means it’s a good idea to visit a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
Depending on the main cause, there are a few possible treatments. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will focus on clearing it out. But irreversible sensorineural hearing loss is more often the cause. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be neutralized with the right set 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 right 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.
A hearing test is the first step to getting it all figured out. Here’s how you can think about it: a hearing assessment will be able to identify what type of hearing loss is at the root of your diplacusis (perhaps you just think things sound strange at this point and you don’t even identify it as diplacusis). We have very sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any discrepancies with how your ears are hearing the world will be found.
Life is more fun when you can hear well
Getting the right treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s a hearing aid or some other treatment option, means you’ll be more able to participate in your daily life. Talking with others will be easier. 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 get in the way.
Call today for an appointment to have your diplacusis symptoms checked.