Millions of years ago, the world was a lot different. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis wandered. Thanks to its really 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 affliction that causes you to hear two sounds at the same time.
Diplacusis is a condition which can be challenging and confusing leading to difficulty with communication.
Perhaps your hearing has been a little strange lately
Typically, we regard hearing loss as our hearing getting muted or quiet over time. According to this idea, over time, we just hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well known, types of hearing loss. One of the most interesting (or, possibly, frustrating) such presentations is a condition called diplacusis.
What is diplacusis?
So, what’s diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical term that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Normally, your brain gets 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. The same thing occurs with your eyes. You will see slightly different images if you cover each eye one at a time. Your ears are the same, it’s just that usually, you never 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 caused by hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in both.
Diplacusis comes in two kinds
Diplacusis does not affect everybody in the same way. However, there are typically two basic types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: This occurs when the pitch is nearly the same from ear to ear, but due to your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. Artifacts like echoes can be the result. This can also cause difficulty in terms of understanding speech.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear don’t match it’s a sign of this type of diplacusis. So when your grandchildren talk to 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 difficult to understand consequently.
The symptoms of diplacusis could include:
- Off timing hearing
- Off pitch hearing
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
The condition of double vision may be a useful 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 cases, diplacusis is nearly always a symptom of hearing loss (either in one ear or in both ears). As a result, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist.
What are the causes diplacusis?
In a very basic sense (and maybe not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up quite nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But there are a few specific reasons why you might develop diplacusis:
- An infection: Inflammation of your ear canal can be the outcome of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This swelling, while a standard response, can impact the way sound travels through your inner ear and to your brain.
- Earwax: In some instances, an earwax blockage can hinder your hearing. Whether that earwax forms a partial or full blockage, it can lead to diplacusis.
- Noise-induced damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced hearing loss due to noise damage, it’s possible that it could trigger diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some really rare situations, tumors inside your ear canal can result in diplacusis. But remain calm! In most cases they’re benign. Nevertheless, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!
It’s clear that there are a number of the same causes of diplacusis and hearing loss. Meaning that you probably have some amount 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 root cause, there are a few possible treatments. If your condition is caused by an obstruction, such as earwax, then treatment will concentrate on the removal of that blockage. But permanent sensorineural hearing loss is more often the cause. In these cases, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be neutralized with the correct set of hearing aids. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. You’ll want to consult us about getting the right 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. Here’s how you can think about it: a hearing assessment will be able to establish what kind of hearing loss is at the source of your diplacusis (maybe you just think things sound strange at this point and you don’t even identify it as diplacusis). Modern hearing tests are very 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 able to participate in your daily life. It will be easier to carry on conversations. 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.
If you think you have diplacusis and want to get it checked, call today for an appointment.