The world was extremely different millions of years ago. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis roamed. Diplacusis was so big, 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. When you’re hearing two sounds at the same time, that’s a hearing condition known as diplacusis.
Diplacusis is a condition which can be frustrating and confusing causing difficulty with communication.
Maybe you’ve been hearing some unusual things
We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a sort of progressive decreasing of the volume knob. According to this notion, over time, we simply hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well known, types of hearing loss. One of the most fascinating (or, possibly, frustrating) such manifestations is a condition called diplacusis.
Diplacusis, what is it?
So, what’s diplacusis? The meaning of the medical name diplacusis is simply “double hearing”. Normally, your brain gets signals from your right ear and signals from the left ear and marries them harmoniously into a single sound. This blended 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. Usually, with your ears, you won’t even notice it.
Diplacusis occurs when the hearing abilities of your ears vary so wildly that your brain can no longer blend them, at least not very well. Monaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is due to hearing loss in both.
Diplicusis comes in two kinds
Different individuals are impacted in different ways by diplacuses. Usually, though, people will experience one of the following two types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s an indication of this type of diplacusis. So when your grandchildren speak with you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. One side might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can cause those sounds to be difficult to make out.
- Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is mostly the same from ear to ear, but because of your hearing loss, the timing is out of whack. This could cause echoes (or, instead, artifacts that sound similar to echoes). This can also cause challenges with regard to understanding speech.
Symptoms of diplacusis
Here are some symptoms of diplacusis:
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
- Hearing that sounds off (in timing).
- Off pitch hearing
Having said that, it’s helpful to think of diplacusis as similar to double vision: Yes, it can produce some symptoms on its own, but it’s normally itself a symptom of something else. (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). So your best course of action would be to make an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
What are the causes diplacusis?
In a very basic sense (and probably not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up quite nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But you may experience diplacusis for several specific reasons:
- Earwax: In some circumstances, an earwax obstruction can impede your ability to hear. That earwax blockage can trigger diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even normal allergies can cause your ear canal to become inflamed. This inflammation, while a normal response, can impact the way sound travels through your inner ear and to your brain.
- Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced hearing loss as a result of noise damage, it’s possible that it could cause diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some really rare cases, tumors in your ear canal can cause diplacusis. But remain calm! They’re normally benign. Nevertheless, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!
It’s clear that there are many of the same causes of hearing loss and diplacusis. Meaning that you most likely have some degree of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. Which means it’s a good idea to visit a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
The treatments for diplacusis differ based on the root cause. 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 situations, 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 likely disappear. It’s essential to get the proper settings on your hearing aids and you’ll want to have us help you with that.
- Cochlear implant: In cases 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. Here’s how you can think about it: whatever type of hearing loss is the cause of your diplacusis, a hearing exam will be able to determine that (perhaps you just think things sound weird at this point and you don’t even identify it as diplacusis). We have extremely 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 clearly
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. It will be easier to carry on conversations. It will be easier to stay in tune with your family.
Which means, you’ll be able to hear your grandchildren tell you all about what a Diplodocus is, and you (hopefully) won’t have any diplacusis to get in the way.
If you think you have diplacusis and want to have it checked, give us a call for an appointment.