The world was rather different millions of years ago. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis wandered. Thanks to its really 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.
Diplacusis is an affliction which can be challenging and confusing leading to difficulty with communication.
Maybe you’ve been hearing some unusual things
We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a kind of progressive lowering of the volume knob. According to this idea, over time, we simply hear less and less. But in some cases, hearing loss can manifest in some peculiar ways. One of the most fascinating (or, perhaps, frustrating) such presentations is a condition called diplacusis.
What is diplacusis?
Exactly what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical name that means, basically, “double hearing”. Usually, your brain will combine the sound from your right and left ear into a single sound. This blended sound is what you hear. The same thing occurs with your eyes. If you place a hand on your right eye and then a hand over your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? Usually, 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. Monaural diplacusis is a result of hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is due to hearing loss in both.
Two kinds of diplacusis
Diplacusis does not affect everyone in the same way. Usually, though, people will experience one of the following two types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: This occurs when the pitch is mostly the same from ear to ear, but because of your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. Artifacts similar to echoes can be the result. And understanding speech can become complicated because of this.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This kind of diplacusis occurs when the pitch of the right ear and the pitch of the left ear seem off. So the sound will be distorted when somebody talks to you. 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 could include:
- Off timing hearing
- Phantom echoes
- Off pitch hearing
That said, it’s helpful to view diplacusis as akin to double vision: It’s usually a symptom of something else, but it can produce some of its own symptoms. (In other words, it’s the effect, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these cases, is most likely a symptom of hearing loss. As a result, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably schedule an appointment with us.
What are the causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up quite well, in a general way, with the causes of hearing loss. But you may develop diplacusis for a number of specific reasons:
- Your ears have damage caused by noise: If you’ve experienced hearing loss due to noise damage, it’s feasible that it could cause diplacusis.
- Earwax: In some instances, an earwax obstruction can hinder your hearing. Whether that earwax forms a partial or full blockage, it can cause diplacusis.
- An infection: Inflammation of your ear canal can be the outcome of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This inflammation is a typical immune response, but it can impact how sound waves move through your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
- A tumor: In some extremely rare situations, tumors in your ear canal can lead to diplacusis. Don’t panic! They’re normally benign. Still, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!
It’s obvious that there are many of the same causes of diplacusis and hearing loss. This means that if you have diplacusis, it’s likely that something is impeding your ability to hear. Which means you have a good reason to visit a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
Depending on the root cause, there are a few possible treatments. If your condition is caused by a blockage, like earwax, then treatment will focus on the removal of that blockage. But irreversible sensorineural hearing loss is more often the cause. In these cases, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be equalized with the right set of hearing aids. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will most likely fade. You’ll want to consult us about getting the right settings for your hearing aids.
- Cochlear implant: In cases where the hearing loss at the root of diplacusis is profound, a cochlear implant might be the only way to provide relief from the symptoms.
A hearing exam is the first step to getting to the bottom of the problem. Here’s how you can think about it: whatever type of hearing loss is the source of your diplacusis, a hearing test will be able to determine 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 quite sensitive, and good at finding inconsistencies between how your ears hear the world.
Life is more fun when you can hear well
Getting the right treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s a hearing aid or something else, means you’ll be more able to participate in your daily life. It will be easier to talk to people. It will be easier to communicate with your family.
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 impede you.
Call today for an appointment to have your diplacusis symptoms checked.