Millions of years ago, the world was quite a bit different. The long-necked Diplacusis wandered this volcano-laden landscape. Thanks to its really long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so large that it feared no predator.
Actually, the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period is called Diplodocus. When you’re hearing two sounds simultaneously, that’s a hearing condition called diplacusis.
While it’s not a “terrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a terror on its own, causing a hearing experience that feels confusing and out of sorts (frequently making communication challenging or impossible).
Perhaps you’ve been hearing some strange things
We’re used to regarding hearing loss as a kind of gradual decreasing of the volume knob. Over time, the story goes, we just 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?
Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical name diplacusis is basically “double hearing”. Usually, your brain will mix the sound from your right and left ear into a single sound. That’s 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. Usually, with your ears, you don’t even notice it.
Diplacusis happens when the hearing abilities of your ears vary so wildly that your brain can no longer combine them, at least not well. Monaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is due to hearing loss in both.
Two kinds of diplacusis
Different individuals are impacted differently by diplacuses. Normally, 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 a sign of this form of diplacusis. 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. This can cause those sounds to be difficult to make out.
- Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is nearly the same from ear to ear, but due to your hearing loss, the timing is out of whack. Artifacts similar to echoes can be the result. And understanding speech can become complicated as a result.
Symptoms of diplacusis
The symptoms of diplacusis could include:
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
- Off timing hearing
- Off pitch hearing
The condition of double vision could be a helpful comparison: Yes, it can develop 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 cases, 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 are the causes diplacusis?
In a very basic sense (and probably not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up quite nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But you could experience diplacusis for numerous specific reasons:
- Earwax: Your ability to hear can be impacted by an earwax obstruction. Whether that earwax causes a partial or full obstruction, it can lead to diplacusis.
- Noise-induced damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced hearing loss due to noise damage, it’s feasible that it could cause diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to become inflamed. This swelling, while a natural response, can impact the way sound moves through your inner ear and to your brain.
- A tumor: In some really rare cases, tumors in your ear canal can cause diplacusis. Don’t panic! In most instances they’re benign. But you still should consult with us about it.
As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same common causes. This means that if you have diplacusis, it’s likely that something is impeding your ability to hear. Which means it’s a good idea to see a hearing specialist.
How is diplacusis treated?
Depending on the main cause, there are several possible treatments. If your condition is related to an obstruction, like earwax, then treatment will concentrate on the removal of that blockage. However, diplacusis is often due to irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. In these situations, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: The correct pair of hearing aids can equalize how your ears hear again. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you benefit from hearing aids. It’s essential to get the right settings on your hearing aids and you’ll need to have us help you with that.
- Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant might be the only way of dealing with 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: whatever kind of hearing loss is the source of your diplacusis, a hearing test will be able to establish that (and, to be fair, you may not even recognize it as diplacusis, you might just think things sound weird these days). Modern hearing assessments are very sensitive, and good at detecting inconsistencies between how your ears hear the world.
Hearing well 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 something else. Conversations will be easier. It will be easier to stay in tune with your family.
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 believe you have diplacusis and want to have it checked, give us a call for an appointment.