The world was very different millions of years ago. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis roamed. Diplacusis was so big, thanks to its long tail and neck, that no other predators were a threat.
Actually, Diplodocus is the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period. When you’re hearing two sounds at the same time, that’s a hearing condition known as diplacusis.
While it’s not a “horrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a terror on its own, causing a hearing experience that feels confusing and out of sorts (frequently making communication challenging or impossible).
Perhaps your hearing has been a bit weird lately
Typically, we regard hearing loss as our hearing becoming muted or quiet over time. According to this idea, over time, we just hear less and less. But in some cases, hearing loss can manifest in some unusual ways. One of the most interesting (or, possibly, frustrating) such manifestations is a condition called diplacusis.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical term that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Typically, your brain will combine the sound from your right and left ear into one sound. That’s what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. If you put a hand on your right eye and then a hand over your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? Usually, with your ears, you don’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 very well. Monaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in both.
Two kinds of diplacusis
Diplacusis does not affect everybody in the same way. However, there are usually two basic types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s an indicator of this type of diplacusis. So when your grandkids talk to you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. One side might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can make those sounds difficult to understand.
- 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. Artifacts like echoes can be the result. And understanding speech can become challenging as a result.
Symptoms of diplacusis
Here are some symptoms of diplacusis:
- Phantom echoes
- Off timing hearing
- Hearing that sounds off (in pitch).
The condition of double vision may be a helpful comparison: It’s usually a symptom of something else, but it can produce some of its own symptoms. (It’s the effect, essentially, not the cause.) In these circumstances, diplacusis is almost 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 causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up quite well, in a general way, with the causes of hearing loss. But you could develop diplacusis for numerous particular reasons:
- An infection: Inflammation of your ear canal can be the consequence of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This swelling, while a typical response, can effect the way sound moves through your inner ear and to your brain.
- Noise-related damage to your ears: 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 blockage. Whether that earwax causes a partial or complete obstruction, it can cause diplacusis.
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare situations, be the result of a tumor in your ear canal. But remain calm! They’re usually benign. But you still should talk to us about it.
It’s obvious that there are many of the same causes of hearing loss and diplacusis. Which means that if you have diplacusis, it’s likely that something is interfering with your ability to hear. So you should definitely come in and see us.
How is diplacusis treated?
The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the underlying cause. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will focus on clearing it out. However, diplacusis is often due to permanent sensorineural hearing loss. Here are some treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: The correct set of hearing aids can neutralize how your ears hear again. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will likely fade. 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.
All of this begins with a hearing exam. Think about it this way: a hearing assessment will be able to determine what type of hearing loss is at the root of your diplacusis (and, to be fair, you might not even recognize it as diplacusis, you might just think things sound weird these days). We have very sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any inconsistencies with how your ears are hearing the world will be found.
Hearing clearly is more fun than not
Getting the appropriate 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 talk to people. Keeping up with your family will be easier.
So there will be no diplacusis symptoms interfering with your ability to hear your grandkids telling you all about the Diplodocus.
If you believe you have diplacusis and want to get it checked, call today for an appointment.