The world was very different millions of years ago. The long-necked Diplacusis wandered this volcano-laden landscape. Thanks to its really long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so large that it feared no predator.
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 an affliction which can be frustrating and confusing leading to difficulty with communication.
Perhaps your hearing has been a little weird lately
We’re used to regarding hearing loss as a sort of gradual decreasing of the volume knob. Over time, the story goes, 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, perhaps, frustrating) such manifestations is a condition called diplacusis.
What is diplacusis?
So, what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical term diplacusis is basically “double hearing”. Usually, your brain will blend the sound from your right and left ear into one sound. That’s what you hear. The same thing occurs with your eyes. You will see slightly different images if you cover each eye one at a time. It’s the same with your ears, it’s just that usually, you never 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 caused by hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in both.
Two forms of diplacusis
Different individuals are affected in different ways by diplacuses. However, there are usually two basic types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This kind of diplacusis occurs when the pitch of the right ear and the pitch of the left ear seem off. 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 cause those sounds to be hard to make out.
- 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. Artifacts like echoes can be the outcome. And understanding speech can become challenging as a result.
The symptoms of diplacusis can include:
- Off pitch hearing
- Off timing hearing
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
Having said that, it’s useful to think of 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). So your best course of action would be to Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing test.
What 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 might develop 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 the way sound waves travel into your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
- Earwax: Your ability to hear can be impacted by an earwax blockage. That earwax obstruction can lead to diplacusis.
- Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced enough loud sounds to damage your ears, it’s possible that the same damage has brought about hearing loss, and consequently, diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some really rare situations, tumors inside your ear canal can cause diplacusis. Don’t panic! In most cases they’re benign. But you should still consult with us about it.
It’s clear that there are many of the same causes of diplacusis and hearing loss. Meaning that you probably have some amount of hearing loss if you’re experiencing diplacusis. So you should definitely come in and see us.
Treatments for diplacusis
Depending on the root cause, there are several possible treatments. If you have an obstruction, treating your diplacusis will focus on clearing it out. However, diplacusis is frequently brought on by irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be neutralized with the right pair of hearing aids. Your diplacusis symptoms will gradually fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. It’s essential to get the proper settings on your hearing aids and you’ll need to have us assist 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 get relief from the symptoms.
All of this begins with a hearing exam. Here’s how you can think about it: whatever type of hearing loss is the source of your diplacusis, a hearing exam will be able to establish that (and, to be fair, you may not even recognize it as diplacusis, you might just think stuff sounds weird these days). Modern hearing tests are quite sensitive, and good at detecting discrepancies between how your ears hear the world.
Hearing clearly is more fun than not
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. Talking with others will be easier. Keeping up with your family will be easier.
So there will be no diplacusis symptoms getting in the way of your ability to hear your grandchildren telling you all about the Diplodocus.
Call today for an appointment to get your diplacusis symptoms assessed.