Millions of years ago, the world was much different. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis wandered. Diplacusis was so large, thanks to its long tail and neck, that no other predators were a threat.
Actually, the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period is known as Diplodocus. 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 your hearing has been a bit weird lately
We’re accustomed to regarding hearing loss as a kind of gradual decreasing of the volume knob. According to this notion, over time, we just hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well recognized, 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 is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical term diplacusis is basically “double hearing”. Normally, your brain takes signals from your right ear and signals from the left ear and joins them harmoniously into a single sound. That’s what you hear. The same thing happens with your eyes. If you put a hand on your right eye and then a hand over your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? Normally, with your ears, you won’t even notice it.
Diplacusis happens when the hearing abilities of your ears differ so wildly that your brain can no longer merge 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.
Two forms of diplacusis
Diplacusis doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. However, there are typically two basic types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s an indication of this form of diplacusis. So when your grandkids speak with you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. Perhaps your right ear hears the sound as low-pitched and your left ear hears the sound as high-pitched. Those sounds can be hard to understand consequently.
- Diplacusis echoica: With this, what you hear will seem off because your brain gets the sound from each ear out of sync with the other instead of hearing two separate pitches. This may cause echoes (or, instead, artifacts that sound similar to echoes). This can also cause difficulty in terms of understanding speech.
The symptoms of diplacusis could include:
- Off pitch hearing
- Hearing that sounds off (in timing).
- Phantom echoes
Having said that, it’s helpful to think of diplacusis as similar to double vision: Yes, it can develop some symptoms on its own, but it’s normally itself a symptom of something else. (In other words, it’s the effect, 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 strategy would be to Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing test.
What are the causes diplacusis?
In a very general sense (and maybe not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up quite nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But you may experience diplacusis for numerous particular reasons:
- Earwax: In some circumstances, an earwax obstruction can interfere with your hearing. That earwax obstruction can cause diplacusis.
- Noise-induced damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced enough loud sounds to damage your ears, it’s possible that the same damage has resulted in hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
- An infection: Swelling of your ear canal can be the consequence of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This inflammation is a typical immune response, but it can influence the way sound waves move through your inner ear (and therefore your brain).
- A tumor: In some extremely rare instances, tumors in your ear canal can lead to diplacusis. But stay calm! In most cases they’re benign. But you should still consult with us about it.
It’s obvious that there are a number of the same causes of diplacusis and hearing loss. Which means that if you have diplacusis, it’s likely that something is impeding your ability to hear. Which means it’s a good idea to see a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the underlying cause. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will center around clearing it out. However, diplacusis is often due to irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. In these cases, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: The correct set of hearing aids can equalize how your ears hear again. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. You’ll want to consult us about finding the correct settings for your hearing aids.
- Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant might be the only way of managing diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.
A hearing exam is the first step to getting it all figured out. Think about it like this: 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 may just think stuff sounds weird these days). Modern hearing assessments are quite sensitive, and good at finding discrepancies between how your ears hear the world.
Life is more fun when you can hear well
Getting the appropriate treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s a hearing aid or something else, means you’ll be more capable of participating in your daily life. It will be easier to talk to people. 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.
If you think you have diplacusis and want to have it checked, call today for an appointment.