Millions of years ago, the world was a lot different. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis roamed. Thanks to its extra long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so large that it feared no predator.
Actually, Diplodocus is the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period. Diplacusis is a hearing condition that causes you to hear two sounds instead of one.
While it’s not a “terrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a menace on its own, leading to a hearing experience that feels confusing and out of sorts (often making communication challenging or impossible).
Maybe you’ve been hearing some odd things
We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a kind of progressive lowering of the volume knob. Over time, the idea is, we simply hear less and less. But in some cases, hearing loss can manifest in some peculiar ways. Diplacusis is one of the stranger, and also more frustrating, of these hearing conditions.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical term diplacusis is basically “double hearing”. Typically, your brain will mix the sound from your right and left ear into one sound. That’s what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. If you put a hand on your right eye and then a hand on your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? Usually, with your ears, you won’t even notice it.
When your brain can’t efficiently 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.
Two forms of diplacusis
Diplacusis does not impact everyone in the same way. Usually, though, individuals will experience one of the following two types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s an indicator of this type of diplacusis. So the sound will be distorted when somebody talks to you. Maybe your right ear thinks the sound is low-pitched and your left ear hears the sound as high-pitched. This can cause those sounds to be hard 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 separate pitches. Artifacts similar to echoes can be the outcome. And understanding speech can become difficult because of this.
Here are some symptoms of diplacusis:
- Phantom echoes
- Hearing that seems off (in pitch).
- Off timing hearing
Having said that, it’s useful to think of diplacusis as akin to double vision: Yes, it can produce some symptoms on its own, but it’s usually itself a symptom of something else. (In other words, it’s the effect, not the cause.) In these circumstances, diplacusis is nearly 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 are the causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up rather well, in a general sense, with the causes of hearing loss. But there are a few particular reasons why you might develop diplacusis:
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even normal allergies can cause your ear canal to become inflamed. This inflammation, while a typical response, can effect the way sound travels through your inner ear and to your brain.
- Earwax: Your hearing can be affected by an earwax obstruction. Whether that earwax forms a partial or full blockage, it can cause diplacusis.
- Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced enough loud noises to damage your hearing, it’s feasible that the same damage has resulted in hearing loss, and consequently, diplacusis.
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare cases, be caused by a tumor inside of your ear canal. Don’t panic! In most instances they’re benign. Still, it’s something you should talk to your hearing specialist about!
As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same typical causes. Which means that if you’re experiencing diplacusis, it’s likely that something is interfering with your ability to hear. So you should absolutely come in and see us.
How is diplacusis treated?
Depending on the main cause, there are a few possible treatments. If you have an obstruction, treating your diplacusis will center around clearing it out. However, diplacusis is frequently brought on by irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. Here are some treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: The right set of hearing aids can neutralize how your ears hear again. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will most likely disappear. You’ll want to talk to us about finding the right settings for your hearing aids.
- 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 test. Think about it like this: a hearing assessment will be able to identify what type 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 recognize it as diplacusis). Modern hearing assessments are really sensitive, and good at finding inconsistencies 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 correct treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or some other treatment. Talking with others will be easier. Keeping up with your family will be easier.
Which means, you’ll be able to hear your grandchildren tell you all about what a Diplodocus is, and you (hopefully) won’t have any diplacusis to get in the way.
Call today for an appointment to have your diplacusis symptoms assessed.