Millions of years ago, the world was much different. 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 was afraid of no predator.
Actually, the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period is called Diplodocus. Diplacusis is a hearing condition that causes you to hear two sounds at the same time.
Diplacusis is an affliction which can be frustrating and confusing leading to difficulty communicating.
Maybe you’ve been hearing some odd things
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 recognized, types of hearing loss. Diplacusis is one of the weirder, and also more frustrating, of these hearing conditions.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical term that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Typically, your brain takes signals from your right ear and signals from the left ear and marries them harmoniously into a single sound. This combined sound is 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? Normally, with your ears, you don’t even notice it.
When your brain can’t effectively combine the two sounds from your ears because they are too different, you have this condition of diplacusis. You can experience diplacusis as a result of hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Diplicusis comes in two forms
Different individuals are affected in different ways by diplacuses. Normally, though, people will experience one of the following two forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear don’t match it’s an indicator of this form of diplacusis. So when your grandchildren talk to you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. Perhaps your right ear thinks the sound is low-pitched and your left ear thinks the sound is high-pitched. This can make those sounds difficult to make out.
- 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 different pitches. Artifacts like echoes can be the outcome. This can also cause challenges with regard to understanding speech.
Symptoms of diplacusis
Here are some symptoms of diplacusis:
- Hearing that sounds off (in timing).
- Off pitch hearing
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
The condition of double vision may be a helpful 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 cases, is most likely a symptom of hearing loss. So your best course of action would be to Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
What causes diplacusis?
In a very general sense (and perhaps not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis align rather nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But you may develop diplacusis for a number of particular reasons:
- Your ears have damage caused by noise: If you’ve experienced enough loud noises to damage your ears, it’s possible that the same damage has led to hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
- Earwax: Your ability to hear can be affected by an earwax blockage. That earwax blockage can trigger diplacusis.
- An infection: Inflammation of your ear canal can be the result of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This swelling is a typical immune reaction, but it can influence the way sound waves move through your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare cases, be the result of a tumor inside of your ear canal. Don’t panic! They’re usually benign. But you should still speak with us about it.
It’s clear that there are many of the same causes of hearing loss and diplacusis. Meaning that you likely have some degree 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 underlying cause, there are a few possible treatments. If you have an obstruction, treating your diplacusis will focus on clearing it out. However, diplacusis is frequently brought on by irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be neutralized with the right pair of hearing aids. 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 want to have us help you with that.
- Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant might be the only way of dealing with diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.
A hearing exam is the first step to getting to the bottom of the problem. Here’s how you can think about it: a hearing assessment will be able to identify what type 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 things sound weird these days). Modern hearing tests are quite sensitive, and good at finding inconsistencies between how your ears hear the world.
Hearing well is more fun than not
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. Talking with others will be easier. 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 think you have diplacusis and want to have it checked, call today for an appointment.