Millions of years ago, the world was quite a bit 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, Diplodocus is the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period. Diplacusis is a hearing affliction that causes you to hear two sounds instead of one.
While it’s not a “horrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a terror on its own, causing a hearing experience that feels bewildering and out of sorts (often 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 decreasing of the volume knob. Over time, the story goes, we simply hear less and less. But sometimes, hearing loss can manifest in some unusual ways. One of the most interesting (or, perhaps, frustrating) such manifestations is a condition called diplacusis.
Diplacusis, what is it?
So, what’s diplacusis? The meaning of the medical name diplacusis is simply “double hearing”. Normally, your brain gets signals from your right ear and signals from the left ear and joins them harmoniously into a single sound. This combined sound is what you hear. The same thing happens with your eyes. If you put a hand over your right eye and then a hand over your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? Normally, with your ears, you won’t even 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 develop diplacusis as a result of hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Two kinds of diplacusis
Diplacusis does not impact everybody in the same way. However, there are usually two basic forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This form of diplacusis occurs when the pitch of the right ear and the pitch of the left ear seem off. So when your grandkids talk to you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. One side might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. Those sounds can be hard to understand as a result.
- 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 result. This can also cause difficulty with regard to understanding speech.
The symptoms of diplacusis can include:
- Hearing that sounds off (in timing).
- Phantom echoes
- Hearing that sounds off (in pitch).
The condition of double vision may be a helpful comparison: Yes, it can develop some symptoms on its own, but it’s normally itself a symptom of something else. (It’s the effect, essentially, not the cause.) In these circumstances, diplacusis is almost always a symptom of hearing loss (either in one ear or in both ears). So your best course of action would be to Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
What causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up quite well, in a general sense, with the causes of hearing loss. But you could develop diplacusis for several specific reasons:
- Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced enough loud noises to damage your hearing, it’s feasible that the same damage has brought about hearing loss, and consequently, diplacusis.
- Earwax: In some instances, an earwax blockage can interfere with your ability to hear. That earwax obstruction can lead to diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to become inflamed. 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 cases, be caused by a tumor in your ear canal. Don’t panic! In most instances they’re benign. Still, it’s something you should talk to your hearing specialist about!
It’s clear that there are a number of the same causes of hearing loss and diplacusis. Which means that if you’re experiencing 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 main cause, there are several possible treatments. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will center around clearing it out. However, diplacusis is often brought on by permanent sensorineural hearing loss. In these situations, 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 most likely disappear. You’ll want to speak with us about getting the correct settings for your hearing aids.
- Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant might be the only way of dealing with diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.
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 exam will be able to identify that (perhaps you just think things sound strange at this point and you don’t even identify 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
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. It will be easier to carry on conversations. 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 get your diplacusis symptoms checked.