Millions of years ago, the world was a lot different. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis wandered. Diplacusis was so big, thanks 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 called diplacusis.
While it’s not a “terrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a menace 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 odd things
Usually, we think of hearing loss as our hearing getting muted or quiet over time. Over time, the story goes, we simply hear less and less. But in some cases, hearing loss can manifest in some unusual ways. One of the most fascinating (or, perhaps, frustrating) such presentations is a condition called diplacusis.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical term diplacusis is basically “double hearing”. Normally, your brain gets signals from your right ear and signals from the left ear and marries them harmoniously into one sound. That’s what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. You will see slightly different images if you put your hand over each eye one at a time. Usually, with your ears, you won’t even notice it.
Diplacusis happens when the hearing abilities of your ears differ so wildly that your brain can no longer merge them, at least not very well. 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 does not affect everyone in the same way. However, there are usually two basic forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: With this, what you hear will sound off because your brain receives the sound from each ear out of sync with the other rather than hearing two separate pitches. Artifacts similar to echoes can be the outcome. This can also cause difficulty in terms of understanding speech.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This type 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 someone speaks with you. Maybe your right ear thinks the sound is low-pitched and your left ear thinks the sound is high-pitched. This can make those sounds hard to make out.
Here are some symptoms of diplacusis:
- Hearing that sounds off (in pitch).
- Phantom echoes
- Off timing hearing
The condition of double vision may be a helpful comparison: It’s normally a symptom of something else, but it can produce some of its own symptoms. (It’s the effect, essentially, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these circumstances, is most likely a symptom of hearing loss. So your best strategy would be to Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
What causes diplacusis?
In a very general sense (and maybe not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis align rather well with the causes of hearing loss. But there are a few particular reasons why you could develop diplacusis:
- Earwax: In some circumstances, an earwax blockage can interfere with your ability to hear. Whether that earwax forms a partial or complete obstruction, it can lead to diplacusis.
- Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced hearing loss as a result of noise damage, it’s possible that it could trigger diplacusis.
- An infection: Swelling of your ear canal can be the result of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This swelling, while a typical response, can impact the way sound moves through your inner ear and to your brain.
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare situations, be the result of a tumor inside of your ear canal. Don’t panic! They’re normally benign. Still, it’s something you should talk to your hearing specialist about!
It’s obvious that there are a number of the same causes of hearing loss and diplacusis. Meaning that you most likely have some level of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. Which means you have a good reason to see a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
The treatments for diplacusis differ based on the underlying cause. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will focus on clearing it out. However, diplacusis is frequently brought on by permanent sensorineural hearing loss. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be neutralized with the right pair of hearing aids. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will likely fade. You’ll want to consult us about finding 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 get 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 kind of hearing loss is the cause of your diplacusis, a hearing test will be able to identify that (maybe you simply think things sound strange at this point and you don’t even recognize it as diplacusis). We have really sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any discrepancies with how your ears are hearing the world will be found.
Life is more fun when you can hear clearly
You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the proper treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or something else. Talking with others will be easier. Keeping up with your family will be easier.
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, give us a call for an appointment.