Millions of years ago, the world was much different. The long-necked Diplacusis roamed this volcano-laden landscape. Diplacusis was so big, 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. Diplacusis is a hearing condition that causes you to hear two sounds instead of one.
Diplacusis is a condition which can be frustrating and confusing causing difficulty with communication.
Perhaps your hearing has been a little strange lately
We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a sort of gradual lowering of the volume knob. According to this notion, over time, we simply hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well recognized, forms of hearing loss. One of the most interesting (or, perhaps, frustrating) such presentations is a condition called diplacusis.
Diplacusis, what is it?
So, what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical name that means, basically, “double hearing”. Typically, your brain takes information from the right ear and information 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 put a hand over your right eye and then a hand over 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.
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 due to hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Two forms of diplacusis
Diplacusis does not impact everyone in the same way. However, there are typically two basic types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This kind of diplacusis occurs when the pitch of the right ear and the pitch of the left ear seem off. So when your grandchildren speak with you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. One side may sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can cause those sounds to be hard to understand.
- Diplacusis echoica: With this, what you hear will seem off because your brain receives the sound from each ear out of sync with the other instead of hearing two different pitches. Artifacts like echoes can be the outcome. This can also cause difficulty in terms of understanding speech.
The symptoms of diplacusis can include:
- Hearing that sounds off (in pitch).
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
- Phantom echoes
The condition of double vision could be a useful comparison: Yes, it can develop some symptoms on its own, but it’s usually itself a symptom of something else. (It’s the effect, essentially, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these circumstances, is most likely a symptom of hearing loss. Consequently, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist.
What causes diplacusis?
In a very general sense (and maybe not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis align quite nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But there are a few particular reasons why you may develop diplacusis:
- Earwax: In some cases, an earwax blockage can hinder your hearing. That earwax blockage can trigger diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to swell. This inflammation is a common immune response, but it can influence how sound waves move through your inner ear (and therefore your brain).
- Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced enough loud sounds to damage your ears, it’s possible that the same damage has resulted in hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some very rare situations, tumors in your ear canal can result in diplacusis. Don’t panic! They’re normally benign. Nevertheless, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!
As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same common causes. This means that if you’re experiencing diplacusis, it’s a good bet something is interfering with your ability to hear. Which means it’s a good idea to visit a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the underlying cause. If your condition is caused by a blockage, like earwax, then treatment will concentrate on the removal of that obstruction. But irreversible sensorineural hearing loss is more often the cause. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:
- 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. It’s important to get the proper settings on your hearing aids and you’ll need to have us help you with that.
- Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant may be the only way of dealing with diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.
All of this starts with a hearing test. 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 (and, to be fair, you may not even recognize it as diplacusis, you might just think stuff sounds weird these days). Modern hearing assessments are really sensitive, and good at detecting inconsistencies between how your ears hear the world.
Hearing well is more fun than not
Getting the appropriate treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s a hearing aid or something else, means you’ll be more capable of participating in your daily life. It will be easier to carry on conversations. 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 get in the way.
Call today for an appointment to have your diplacusis symptoms checked.