The world was rather different millions of years ago. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis wandered. Thanks to its extra 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 a condition which can be frustrating and confusing resulting in difficulty communicating.
Maybe you’ve been hearing some strange things
Typically, we regard hearing loss as our hearing becoming muted or quiet over time. According to this idea, over time, we simply hear less and less. But sometimes, hearing loss can manifest in some peculiar ways. Diplacusis is one of the stranger, and also more frustrating, of these hearing conditions.
What is diplacusis?
Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical name diplacusis is simply “double hearing”. Typically, your brain takes signals from your right ear and signals from the left ear and combines them harmoniously into a single sound. That’s what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. If you place 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 don’t notice it.
When your brain can’t successfully integrate the two sounds from your ears because they are too different, you have this condition of diplacusis. Monaural diplacusis is a result of hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is due to hearing loss in both.
Diplacusis comes in two forms
Different people are impacted differently by diplacuses. Usually, though, individuals will experience one of the following two forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is mostly the same from ear to ear, but because of your hearing loss, the timing is out of whack. Artifacts similar to echoes can be the outcome. And understanding speech can become challenging because of this.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear don’t match it’s a sign of this form of diplacusis. So the sound will be distorted when somebody speaks with you. Maybe your right ear hears the sound as low-pitched and your left ear thinks the sound is high-pitched. Those sounds can be hard to understand as a result.
Symptoms of diplacusis
The symptoms of diplacusis could include:
- Off pitch hearing
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
That said, it’s useful to think of diplacusis as akin to double vision: It’s usually a symptom of something else, but it can produce some of its own symptoms. (In other words, it’s the effect, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these circumstances, is probably a symptom of hearing loss. Consequently, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably make an appointment with us.
What are the causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up quite well, in a general sense, with the causes of hearing loss. But there are some particular reasons why you might develop diplacusis:
- Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced enough loud sounds to damage your hearing, it’s possible that the same damage has resulted in hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to become inflamed. This inflammation is a common immune reaction, but it can influence how sound waves travel into your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
- Earwax: In some instances, an earwax blockage can hinder your ability to hear. That earwax obstruction can cause diplacusis.
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare instances, be the result of a tumor inside of your ear canal. Don’t panic! In most instances they’re benign. But you should still speak 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. Which means you have a good reason to see a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
Depending on the main cause, there are several possible treatments. If you have an obstruction, treating your diplacusis will focus on 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 right pair of hearing aids can equalize how your ears hear again. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. 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: In cases where the hearing loss at the root of diplacusis is profound, a cochlear implant may be the only way to get relief from the symptoms.
All of this begins with a hearing assessment. Here’s how you can think about it: whatever type of hearing loss is the cause of your diplacusis, a hearing test will be able to identify that (and, to be fair, you might not even recognize it as diplacusis, you might just think stuff sounds weird these days). We have really 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 clearly
You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the correct 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.
If you think you have diplacusis and want to get it checked, give us a call for an appointment.