Millions of years ago, the world was much different. The long-necked Diplacusis roamed this volcano-laden landscape. Thanks to its really 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 simultaneously, that’s a hearing condition known as diplacusis.
Diplacusis is an affliction which can be frustrating and confusing leading to difficulty with communication.
Perhaps your hearing has been a bit weird lately
Usually, we think of hearing loss as our hearing becoming muted or quiet over time. According to this idea, over time, we just hear less and less. But sometimes, hearing loss can manifest in some peculiar ways. One of the most fascinating (or, possibly, frustrating) such manifestations is a condition called diplacusis.
What is diplacusis?
So, what’s diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical term that means, basically, “double hearing”. Normally, your brain gets signals from your right ear and signals from the left ear and combines them harmoniously into one 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 on your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? Normally, 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 well. You can develop diplacusis as a result of hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Diplacusis comes in two types
Diplacusis does not affect everyone in the same way. Usually, though, people will experience one of the following two types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is nearly the same from ear to ear, but due to your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. This may cause echoes (or, rather, artifacts that sound like echoes). This can also cause challenges when it comes to understanding speech.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear don’t match it’s an indicator of this form of diplacusis. 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 difficult to understand consequently.
The symptoms of diplacusis can include:
- Hearing that seems off (in pitch).
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
That said, it’s helpful to view diplacusis as similar to double vision: It’s normally a symptom of something else, but it can create some of its own symptoms. (It’s the effect, essentially, not the cause.) In these circumstances, 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 a hearing specialist.
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 a few specific reasons why you could develop diplacusis:
- Earwax: Your ability to hear can be affected by an earwax obstruction. That earwax blockage can cause diplacusis.
- An infection: Swelling of your ear canal can be the outcome of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This swelling is a typical immune reaction, but it can impact the way sound waves travel into your inner ear (and subsequently 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: Diplacusis can, in rare situations, be the result of a tumor inside of your ear canal. But stay calm! They’re normally benign. But you still should speak with us about it.
Obviously, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same common causes. Meaning that you likely have some amount of hearing loss if you’re experiencing diplacusis. Which means you have a good reason to see a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
Depending on the underlying cause, there are a few possible treatments. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will focus on clearing it out. But permanent sensorineural hearing loss is more frequently the cause. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: The correct set of hearing aids can neutralize how your ears hear again. Your diplacusis symptoms will gradually fade when you benefit from hearing aids. You’ll want to consult us about getting the correct 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.
All of this starts with a hearing exam. Here’s how you can think about it: whatever kind of hearing loss is the cause of your diplacusis, a hearing exam will be able to identify that (and, to be fair, you may not even recognize it as diplacusis, you may just think things sound weird these days). We have very sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any discrepancies with how your ears are hearing the world will be detected.
Life is more fun when you can hear clearly
You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the appropriate treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or some other treatment. Conversations will be easier. Keeping up with your family will be easier.
So there will be no diplacusis symptoms interfering with your ability to hear your grandchildren telling you all about the Diplodocus.
Call today for an appointment to get your diplacusis symptoms assessed.