The world was extremely different millions of years ago. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis roamed. Thanks to its extra long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so large that it feared no predator.
Actually, Diplodocus is the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period. Diplacusis is a hearing affliction that causes you to hear two sounds at the same time.
Diplacusis is a condition which can be frustrating and confusing resulting in difficulty communicating.
Perhaps you’ve been hearing some strange things
We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a sort of progressive lowering of the volume knob. Over time, the idea is, we simply hear less and less. But in some cases, hearing loss can manifest in some peculiar ways. Diplacusis is one of the weirder, and also more frustrating, of these hearing conditions.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical term that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Typically, your brain will mix the sound from your right and left ear into a single sound. That’s what you hear. The same thing happens with your eyes. You will see slightly different images if you cover each eye one at a time. Usually, with your ears, you won’t even notice it.
Diplacusis happens when the hearing abilities of your ears vary so significantly that your brain can no longer merge 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 everybody in the same way. Usually, though, individuals will experience one of the following two types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: This occurs when the pitch is nearly the same from ear to ear, but because of your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. This could cause echoes (or, rather, artifacts that sound similar to echoes). This can also cause difficulty when it comes to understanding speech.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This form of diplacusis happens when the pitch of the right ear and the pitch of the left ear seem off. So the sound will be distorted when someone speaks with you. Maybe your right ear hears the sound as low-pitched and your left ear hears the sound as high-pitched. Those sounds can be difficult to understand as a result.
Symptoms of diplacusis
Here are a few symptoms of diplacusis:
- Hearing that seems off (in pitch).
- Off timing hearing
- Phantom echoes
The condition of double vision may be a useful comparison: It’s usually a symptom of something else, but it can create some of its own symptoms. (Essentially, it’s the effect, not the cause.) In these circumstances, diplacusis is nearly always a symptom of hearing loss (either in one ear or in both ears). So your best strategy would be to Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
What are the causes diplacusis?
In a very general sense (and maybe not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up quite well with the causes of hearing loss. But there are some particular reasons why you may develop diplacusis:
- Noise-induced damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced hearing loss due to noise damage, it’s feasible 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 inflammation is a common immune reaction, but it can impact how sound waves move through your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
- Earwax: In some cases, an earwax blockage can interfere with your ability to hear. That earwax obstruction can cause diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some very rare circumstances, tumors inside your ear canal can result in diplacusis. Don’t panic! In most cases they’re benign. Nevertheless, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!
It’s clear that there are a number of the same causes of diplacusis and hearing loss. Meaning that you probably have some degree of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. Which means you have a good reason to see a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
Depending on the main cause, there are a few possible treatments. If you have an obstruction, treating your diplacusis will center around clearing it out. But irreversible sensorineural hearing loss is more often the cause. Here are some treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be neutralized with the right set of hearing aids. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will most likely disappear. It’s essential to get the correct settings on your hearing aids and you’ll want to have us help you with that.
- 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 begins with a hearing test. Here’s how you can think about it: a hearing assessment will be able to establish what kind of hearing loss is at the source of your diplacusis (maybe you just think things sound strange 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 well
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. It will be easier to talk to people. It will be easier to communicate 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.