The world was extremely different millions of years ago. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis roamed. 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 called Diplodocus. When you’re hearing two sounds at the same time, that’s a hearing condition called diplacusis.
While it’s not a “terrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a menace on its own, causing a hearing experience that feels confusing and out of sorts (often making communication challenging or impossible).
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 notion, over time, we simply 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 problems.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical term diplacusis is basically “double hearing”. Usually, 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. You will see slightly different images if you put your hand over each eye one at a time. Normally, with your ears, you don’t even notice it.
When your brain can’t efficiently merge 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 types of diplacusis
Diplacusis does not affect everyone in the same way. However, there are usually two basic forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s a sign of this form of diplacusis. So the sound will be distorted when somebody talks to you. 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 hard to understand.
- 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 rather than hearing two separate pitches. This could cause echoes (or, rather, artifacts that sound like echoes). And understanding speech can become complicated because of this.
The symptoms of diplacusis could include:
- Off pitch hearing
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
- Hearing that sounds off (in timing).
Having said that, it’s helpful to think of diplacusis as akin to double vision: It’s usually a symptom of something else, but it can create some of its own symptoms. (In other words, it’s the effect, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these circumstances, is most likely a symptom of hearing loss. So your best strategy would be to Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
What are the causes diplacusis?
In a very general sense (and probably not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up rather nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But there are a few specific reasons why you could develop diplacusis:
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even normal allergies can cause your ear canal to become inflamed. This inflammation is a normal immune response, but it can influence how sound waves move through your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
- Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced hearing loss as a result of noise damage, it’s possible that it could trigger diplacusis.
- Earwax: Your ability to hear can be impacted by an earwax blockage. Whether that earwax forms a partial or full obstruction, it can lead to diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some really rare cases, tumors in your ear canal can lead to diplacusis. Don’t panic! In most instances they’re benign. But you should still talk to us about it.
As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same typical causes. This means that if you’re experiencing diplacusis, it’s a good bet something is interfering with your ability to hear. So you should absolutely come in and talk to us.
How is diplacusis treated?
The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the underlying cause. If you have an obstruction, treating your diplacusis will center around clearing it out. But permanent sensorineural hearing loss is more frequently the cause. In these cases, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be equalized with the right pair of hearing aids. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will likely fade. It’s important to get the correct settings on your hearing aids and you’ll want to have us assist you with that.
- Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant may be the only way of dealing with diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.
All of this begins with a hearing assessment. Think about it this way: whatever type of hearing loss is the source of your diplacusis, a hearing test will be able to determine that (maybe you just think things sound weird at this point and you don’t even recognize it as diplacusis). We have really sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any discrepancies with how your ears are hearing the world will be found.
Hearing well is more fun than not
You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the proper treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or something else. It will be easier to carry on conversations. It will be easier to stay in tune with your family.
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 believe you have diplacusis and want to get it checked, give us a call for an appointment.