Millions of years ago, the world was a lot different. The long-necked Diplacusis roamed this volcano-laden landscape. Diplacusis was so large, due 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.
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 (often making communication difficult or impossible).
Perhaps you’ve been hearing some strange things
We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a kind of progressive lowering of the volume knob. Over time, the story goes, we simply hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well recognized, forms of hearing loss. Diplacusis is one of the stranger, and also more frustrating, of these hearing problems.
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 one sound. This combined sound is what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. You will see slightly different images if you cover each eye one at a time. Usually, with your ears, you don’t even notice it.
When your brain can’t efficiently integrate 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 kinds of diplacusis
Diplacusis doesn’t affect everybody in the same way. However, there are typically two basic forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This form 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 when your grandkids talk to you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. Maybe your right ear hears the sound as low-pitched and your left ear thinks the sound is high-pitched. This can make those sounds difficult to make out.
- Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is mostly the same from ear to ear, but due to your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. This could cause echoes (or, instead, artifacts that sound similar to echoes). This can also cause difficulty when it comes to understanding speech.
Symptoms of diplacusis
Here are some symptoms of diplacusis:
- Hearing that seems off (in pitch).
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
Having said that, it’s useful to think of diplacusis as similar to double vision: Yes, it can produce some symptoms on its own, but it’s usually itself a symptom of something else. (Essentially, it’s the effect, not the cause.) In these circumstances, diplacusis is nearly always a symptom of hearing loss (either in one ear or in both ears). Consequently, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist.
What are the causes diplacusis?
In a very general sense (and perhaps not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up rather well with the causes of hearing loss. But you could develop diplacusis for a number of specific reasons:
- Earwax: In some instances, an earwax obstruction can impede your hearing. Whether that earwax forms a partial or complete obstruction, it can lead to diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even normal allergies can cause your ear canal to swell. This swelling, while a typical response, can impact the way sound travels through your inner ear and to your brain.
- Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced hearing loss caused by noise damage, it’s feasible that it could cause diplacusis.
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare instances, be caused by a tumor inside of your ear canal. But remain calm! In most cases they’re benign. Nevertheless, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!
As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same common causes. Meaning that you probably have some level of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. Which means it’s a good idea to visit a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
Depending on the main cause, there are a few possible treatments. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will focus on clearing it out. But irreversible sensorineural hearing loss is more often the cause. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: The correct pair of hearing aids can neutralize how your ears hear again. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will likely disappear. You’ll want to speak with us about finding the correct settings for your hearing aids.
- Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant may be the only way of managing diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.
A hearing test is the first step to getting it all figured out. Think about it this way: a hearing assessment will be able to identify what kind of hearing loss is at the source 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 very sensitive, and good at detecting discrepancies between how your ears hear the world.
Life is more fun when you can hear well
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. Conversations will be easier. Keeping up with your family will be easier.
Which means, you’ll be able to hear your grandkids tell you all about what a Diplodocus is, and you (hopefully) won’t have any diplacusis to get in the way.
Call today for an appointment to have your diplacusis symptoms assessed.