Millions of years ago, the world was much different. The long-necked Diplacusis roamed this volcano-laden landscape. Diplacusis was so large, due 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 terror on its own, resulting in a hearing experience that feels confusing and out of sorts (often making communication challenging or impossible).
Perhaps your hearing has been a bit weird lately
Usually, we regard hearing loss as our hearing getting muted or quiet over time. According to this idea, over time, we simply hear less and less. But sometimes, hearing loss can manifest in some unusual ways. Diplacusis is one of the stranger, and also more frustrating, of these hearing conditions.
Diplacusis, what is it?
So, what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical term that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Normally, your brain takes signals from your right ear and signals from the left ear and combines them harmoniously into one sound. That’s what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. If you place a hand over your right eye and then a hand on your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? It’s the same with your ears, it’s just that usually, you don’t notice it.
Diplacusis occurs when the hearing abilities of your ears differ so wildly that your brain can no longer merge them, at least not well. You can develop diplacusis as a result of hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Two forms of diplacusis
Different people are impacted differently by diplacuses. Normally, though, individuals will experience one of the following two forms of diplacusis:
- 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 may cause echoes (or, instead, artifacts that sound like echoes). And understanding speech can become difficult because of this.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s an indication of this form of diplacusis. So when your grandkids speak with you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. One side might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. Those sounds can be difficult to understand consequently.
Symptoms of diplacusis
Here are some symptoms of diplacusis:
- Phantom echoes
- Off pitch hearing
- Off timing hearing
Having said that, it’s helpful 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. (Essentially, it’s the effect, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these cases, is most likely a symptom of hearing loss. Consequently, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist.
What are the causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up quite well, in a general sense, with the causes of hearing loss. But you could experience diplacusis for a number of specific reasons:
- Earwax: In some instances, an earwax obstruction can hinder your hearing. Whether that earwax forms a partial or full obstruction, it can lead to diplacusis.
- Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced hearing loss caused by noise damage, it’s possible that it could trigger diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even normal allergies can cause your ear canal to swell. This swelling, while a natural response, can impact the way sound travels through your inner ear and to your brain.
- A tumor: In some very rare situations, tumors inside your ear canal can lead to diplacusis. Don’t panic! In most cases they’re benign. Nevertheless, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!
It’s obvious that there are a number of the same causes of diplacusis and hearing loss. Meaning that you likely have some level of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. Which means it’s a good idea to visit a hearing specialist.
How is diplacusis treated?
The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the underlying cause. If your condition is the result of an obstruction, such as earwax, then treatment will concentrate on the removal of that obstruction. But permanent sensorineural hearing loss is more frequently the cause. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: The right pair of hearing aids can equalize how your ears hear again. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will likely fade. It’s important 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 may be the only way to provide relief from the symptoms.
A hearing test is the first step to getting to the bottom of the problem. Think about it this way: a hearing assessment will be able to establish what kind of hearing loss is at the root of your diplacusis (maybe you just think things sound strange at this point and you don’t even identify it as diplacusis). Modern hearing tests are quite sensitive, and good at finding inconsistencies between how your ears hear the world.
Life is more fun when you can hear clearly
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. It will be easier to carry on conversations. 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 get your diplacusis symptoms checked.