Millions of years ago, the world was a lot different. The long-necked Diplacusis wandered this volcano-laden landscape. Diplacusis was so large, thanks to its long tail and neck, that no other predators were a threat.
Actually, the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period is called Diplodocus. Diplacusis is a hearing condition that causes you to hear two sounds at the same time.
While it’s not a “horrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a menace on its own, resulting in 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 accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a sort of progressive lowering of the volume knob. According to this notion, over time, we just hear less and less. But sometimes, hearing loss can manifest in some peculiar ways. One of the most interesting (or, possibly, frustrating) such presentations is a condition called diplacusis.
Diplacusis, what is it?
So, what’s diplacusis? The meaning of the medical name diplacusis is basically “double hearing”. Usually, your brain will blend the sound from your right and left ear into one sound. That’s what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. 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 differ so wildly that your brain can no longer combine them, at least not very well. Monaural diplacusis is a result of hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in both.
Two types of diplacusis
Different people are affected differently by diplacuses. However, there are usually two basic types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear don’t match it’s an indication of this type of diplacusis. So the sound will be distorted when somebody speaks with you. One side might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can make those sounds hard to make out.
- Diplacusis echoica: With this, what you hear will sound off because your brain gets the sound from each ear out of sync with the other rather than hearing two different pitches. This might cause echoes (or, rather, artifacts that sound like echoes). This can also cause challenges in terms of understanding speech.
Symptoms of diplacusis
Here are some symptoms of diplacusis:
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
- Hearing that seems off (in pitch).
- Hearing that sounds off (in timing).
That said, it’s helpful to think of diplacusis as akin to double vision: Yes, it can produce some symptoms on its own, but it’s normally 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 course of action would be to make an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
What are the causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up quite well, in a general way, with the causes of hearing loss. But there are some particular reasons why you could develop diplacusis:
- Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced enough loud noises to damage your hearing, it’s possible that the same damage has resulted in hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
- Earwax: In some instances, an earwax blockage can hinder your ability to hear. That earwax obstruction can trigger diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to swell. This swelling is a common immune response, but it can impact how sound waves travel into your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
- A tumor: In some very rare situations, tumors in your ear canal can lead to diplacusis. Don’t panic! They’re normally benign. Nevertheless, it’s something you should talk to your hearing specialist about!
It’s clear that there are many of the same causes of hearing loss and diplacusis. Which means that if you’re experiencing diplacusis, it’s a good bet something is interfering with your ability to hear. Which means you have a good reason to see a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the root cause. If you have an obstruction, treating your diplacusis will focus on clearing it out. However, diplacusis is frequently brought on by irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. In these cases, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: The right set of hearing aids can neutralize how your ears hear again. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will likely disappear. You’ll want to talk to us about getting the correct 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.
All of this begins with a hearing assessment. Think about it this way: a hearing assessment will be able to identify what kind of hearing loss is at the source of your diplacusis (perhaps you just think things sound strange at this point and you don’t even recognize it as diplacusis). Modern hearing tests are very sensitive, and good at finding discrepancies between how your ears hear the world.
Life is more fun when you can hear clearly
Getting the proper treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s a hearing aid or some other treatment option, means you’ll be more able to participate in your daily life. Talking with others will be easier. It will be easier to communicate 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 impede you.
If you believe you have diplacusis and want to get it checked, give us a call for an appointment.
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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.