Millions of years ago, the world was quite a bit different. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis roamed. Thanks to its really long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so big that it was afraid of no predator.
Actually, the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period is known as Diplodocus. Diplacusis is a hearing condition that causes you to hear two sounds at the same time.
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 (frequently making communication challenging or impossible).
Perhaps your hearing has been a bit strange lately
We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a sort of gradual lowering of the volume knob. Over time, the story goes, we just hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well recognized, types of hearing loss. One of the most fascinating (or, possibly, frustrating) such presentations is a condition called diplacusis.
What is diplacusis?
So, what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical name that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Typically, your brain will combine the sound from your right and left ear into a single sound. This combined sound is what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. If you put a hand over your right eye and then a hand over your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? Your ears are the same, it’s just that typically, you don’t notice it.
When your brain can’t efficiently combine the two sounds from your ears because they are too different, you have this condition of diplacusis. You can experience diplacusis as a result of hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Diplicusis comes in two kinds
Diplacusis doesn’t affect everybody in the same way. However, there are typically two basic types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s an indication of this form of diplacusis. So the sound will be distorted when somebody talks to you. One side might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can make those sounds hard to make out.
- Diplacusis echoica: This occurs when the pitch is nearly the same from ear to ear, but because of your hearing loss, the timing is out of whack. This might cause echoes (or, instead, artifacts that sound like echoes). This can also cause difficulty with regard to understanding speech.
Here are a few symptoms of diplacusis:
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
- Off pitch hearing
Having said that, it’s useful to view diplacusis as akin to double vision: 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.) 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 test.
What causes diplacusis?
In a very basic sense (and perhaps not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up rather well with the causes of hearing loss. But you could develop diplacusis for a number of specific reasons:
- An infection: Inflammation of your ear canal can be the outcome of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This inflammation, while a natural response, can impact the way sound travels through your inner ear and to your brain.
- Earwax: Your hearing can be affected by an earwax blockage. Whether that earwax causes a partial or complete obstruction, it can cause diplacusis.
- Noise-induced damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced enough loud noises to damage your ears, it’s feasible that the same damage has resulted in hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some really rare circumstances, tumors inside your ear canal can result in diplacusis. Don’t panic! They’re normally benign. Still, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!
It’s clear that there are a number of the same causes of diplacusis and hearing loss. Which 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 visit a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
Depending on the underlying cause, there are a few possible treatments. If you have an obstruction, treating your diplacusis will focus on clearing it out. But irreversible sensorineural hearing loss is more frequently the cause. Here are some treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be neutralized with the right pair of hearing aids. Your diplacusis symptoms will gradually 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 assist you with that.
- Cochlear implant: In cases where the hearing loss at the root of diplacusis is profound, a cochlear implant might be the only way to get relief from the symptoms.
A hearing test is the first step to getting to the bottom of the problem. Here’s how you can think about it: a hearing exam will be able to determine what type of hearing loss is at the source of your diplacusis (maybe you simply 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 discrepancies between how your ears hear the world.
Life is more fun when you can hear well
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. Talking with others will be easier. Keeping up with your family will be easier.
So there will be no diplacusis symptoms getting in the way of your ability to hear your grandchildren telling you all about the Diplodocus.
Call today for an appointment to have your diplacusis symptoms assessed.