The world was rather different millions of years ago. The long-necked Diplacusis roamed this volcano-laden landscape. Diplacusis was so big, due to its long tail and neck, that no other predators were a threat.
Actually, Diplodocus is the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period. When you’re hearing two sounds simultaneously, that’s a hearing condition known as diplacusis.
While it’s not a “terrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a terror on its own, resulting in a hearing experience that feels bewildering and out of sorts (often making communication challenging or impossible).
Perhaps 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 sometimes, hearing loss can manifest in some unusual ways. Diplacusis is one of the weirder, and also more frustrating, of these hearing conditions.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical name diplacusis is basically “double hearing”. Typically, your brain will blend the sound from your right and left ear into one 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. Normally, with your ears, you don’t even 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. You can develop diplacusis due to hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Diplacusis comes in two kinds
Diplacusis doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. 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 type of diplacusis. So when your grandkids speak with 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: With this, what you hear will sound off because your brain gets the sound from each ear out of sync with the other rather than hearing two separate pitches. This may cause echoes (or, rather, artifacts that sound similar to echoes). And understanding speech can become difficult as a result.
Here are some symptoms of diplacusis:
- Hearing that sounds off (in pitch).
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
- Phantom echoes
That said, it’s useful to view diplacusis as akin to double vision: It’s normally a symptom of something else, but it can produce some of its own symptoms. (Essentially, 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 make an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
What causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up quite well, in a general sense, with the causes of hearing loss. But you could experience diplacusis for numerous specific reasons:
- Earwax: Your ability to hear can be affected by an earwax blockage. Whether that earwax causes a partial or full obstruction, it can cause diplacusis.
- Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced hearing loss as a result of noise damage, it’s feasible that it could trigger diplacusis.
- An infection: Inflammation of your ear canal can be the consequence of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This swelling is a typical immune response, but it can impact how sound waves travel into your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare situations, be the result of a tumor in your ear canal. But remain calm! They’re usually benign. But you still should talk to us about it.
It’s obvious that there are a number of the same causes of hearing loss and diplacusis. Meaning that you likely have some amount of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. Which means it’s a good idea to visit a hearing specialist.
How is diplacusis treated?
Depending on the main cause, there are several possible treatments. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will focus on clearing it out. However, diplacusis is frequently caused by permanent sensorineural hearing loss. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be equalized with the correct pair of hearing aids. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will likely disappear. You’ll want to speak with us about finding the right settings for your hearing aids.
- Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant might be the only way of dealing with diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.
A hearing aid discovery test is the first step to getting to the bottom of the problem. Here’s how you can think about it: whatever kind of hearing loss is the cause of your diplacusis, a hearing aid discovery test will be able to determine that (and, to be fair, you might not even recognize it as diplacusis, you may just think stuff sounds weird these days). Modern hearing aid discovery tests are very sensitive, and good at detecting discrepancies between how your ears hear the world.
Hearing clearly 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 some other treatment. It will be easier to talk to people. It will be easier to stay in tune with your family.
So there will be no diplacusis symptoms interfering with your ability to hear your grandchildren telling you all about the Diplodocus.
If you believe you have diplacusis and want to get it checked, call today for an appointment.