Millions of years ago, the world was quite a bit different. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis wandered. Thanks to its extra long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so big that it feared no predator.
Actually, the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period is known as Diplodocus. 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, resulting in a hearing experience that feels confusing and out of sorts (frequently making communication challenging or impossible).
Perhaps your hearing has been a little weird lately
We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a sort of gradual lowering of the volume knob. Over time, the idea is, we simply hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well known, types of hearing loss. Diplacusis is one of the stranger, and also more frustrating, of these hearing problems.
What is diplacusis?
So, what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical term diplacusis is basically “double hearing”. Typically, your brain gets information from the right ear and information from the left ear and joins them harmoniously into a single sound. That’s what you hear. The same thing happens with your eyes. If you place a hand on your right eye and then a hand on your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? It’s the same with your ears, it’s just that usually, you don’t notice it.
Diplacusis occurs when the hearing abilities of your ears differ so wildly that your brain can no longer blend 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
Different people are affected in different ways by diplacuses. However, there are usually two basic types of diplacusis:
- 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 separate pitches. Artifacts like echoes can be the result. And understanding speech can become challenging as a result.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This type of diplacusis happens when the pitch of the right ear and the pitch of the left ear seem off. So when your grandkids speak with you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. One side may sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. Those sounds can be hard to understand consequently.
Symptoms of diplacusis
The symptoms of diplacusis can include:
- Off pitch hearing
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
The condition of double vision may be a helpful comparison: Yes, it can develop some symptoms on its own, but it’s normally itself a symptom of something else. (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 course of action would be to Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
What causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up rather well, in a general sense, with the causes of hearing loss. But you could develop diplacusis for several particular reasons:
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even normal allergies can cause your ear canal to become inflamed. This swelling, while a standard response, can effect the way sound travels through your inner ear and to your brain.
- Noise-induced damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced enough loud noises to damage your hearing, it’s feasible that the same damage has brought about hearing loss, and consequently, diplacusis.
- Earwax: Your hearing can be affected by an earwax obstruction. That earwax obstruction can cause diplacusis.
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare instances, be caused by a tumor inside of your ear canal. Don’t panic! They’re normally benign. Still, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!
Obviously, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same typical causes. Meaning that you probably have some degree of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. So you should absolutely come in and talk to us.
How is diplacusis treated?
The treatments for diplacusis differ based on the root cause. If your condition is caused by a blockage, like earwax, then treatment will concentrate on the removal of that blockage. However, diplacusis is frequently caused by permanent sensorineural hearing loss. Here are a few 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 most likely fade. It’s important to get the right settings on your hearing aids and you’ll want to have us help you with that.
- Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant may be the only way of managing diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.
All of this begins with a hearing assessment. Think about it like this: a hearing test will be able to determine 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). We have very 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
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. It will be easier to talk to people. It will be easier to communicate with your family.
So there will be no diplacusis symptoms getting in the way of your ability to hear your grandkids telling you all about the Diplodocus.
Call today for an appointment to get your diplacusis symptoms assessed.