Millions of years ago, the world was much different. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis roamed. 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 called 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 (often making communication challenging or impossible).
Perhaps your hearing has been a little weird lately
We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a sort of progressive lowering of the volume knob. Over time, the story goes, we just hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well known, forms of hearing loss. One of the most fascinating (or, perhaps, frustrating) such presentations is a condition called diplacusis.
What is diplacusis?
So, what’s diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical name that means, basically, “double hearing”. Usually, your brain will blend the sound from your right and left ear into one sound. This blended sound is what you hear. The same thing occurs with your eyes. If you put a hand on your right eye and then a hand on your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? It’s the same with your ears, it’s just that usually, you never notice it.
Diplacusis happens when the hearing abilities of your ears vary so wildly that your brain can no longer merge them, at least not well. You can experience diplacusis because of the hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Diplacusis comes in two types
Different people are impacted differently by diplacuses. Normally, though, individuals will experience one of the following two forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This type of diplacusis happens when the pitch of the right ear and the pitch of the left ear are hearing sound as two different pitches. So the sound will be distorted when somebody talks to you. One side may sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can cause those sounds to be hard to make out.
- Diplacusis echoica: With this, what you hear will seem off because your brain receives the sound from each ear out of sync with the other rather than hearing two different pitches. This might cause echoes (or, instead, artifacts that sound similar to echoes). And understanding speech can become difficult because of this.
Here are some symptoms of diplacusis:
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
- Off pitch hearing
- Off timing hearing
The condition of double vision might be a useful 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.) Diplacusis, in these circumstances, is probably a symptom of hearing loss. As a result, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably make an appointment with us.
What are the causes diplacusis?
In a very general sense (and maybe not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis align quite nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But there are a few particular reasons why you could develop diplacusis:
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to become inflamed. This swelling is a normal immune reaction, but it can impact how sound waves travel into your inner ear (and therefore your brain).
- Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced hearing loss due to noise damage, it’s feasible that it could cause diplacusis.
- Earwax: Your ability to hear can be affected by an earwax obstruction. That earwax obstruction can trigger diplacusis.
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare cases, be caused by a tumor inside of your ear canal. Don’t panic! In most cases they’re benign. But you still should speak with us about it.
As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same common causes. Meaning that you likely have some level of hearing loss if you’re experiencing diplacusis. So you should definitely come in and see us.
How is diplacusis treated?
Depending on the main cause, there are a few possible treatments. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will center around clearing it out. But permanent sensorineural hearing loss is more often the cause. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: The correct set of hearing aids can equalize how your ears hear again. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will likely fade. It’s important to get the correct settings on your hearing aids and you’ll need to have us help you with that.
- Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant might 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: a hearing test will be able to identify what type of hearing loss is at the root of your diplacusis (and, to be fair, you may not even recognize it as diplacusis, you might just think things sound weird these days). Modern hearing assessments are quite sensitive, and good at detecting inconsistencies between how your ears hear the world.
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 capable of participating in your daily life. It will be easier to carry on conversations. It will be easier to stay in tune with your family.
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 have your diplacusis symptoms assessed.