Millions of years ago, the world was quite a bit different. The long-necked Diplacusis roamed this volcano-laden landscape. Thanks to its really long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so large that it was afraid of no predator.
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.
Diplacusis is an affliction which can be challenging and confusing causing difficulty communicating.
Perhaps your hearing has been a little weird lately
We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a sort of progressive 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 known, types of hearing loss. Diplacusis is one of the weirder, and also more frustrating, of these hearing conditions.
Diplacusis, what is it?
So, what’s diplacusis? The meaning of the medical term diplacusis is simply “double hearing”. Normally, your brain takes signals from your right ear and signals from the left ear and joins them harmoniously into a single sound. This blended sound is what you hear. The same thing happens with your eyes. 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 never notice it.
When your brain can’t successfully combine the two sounds from your ears because they are too different, you have this condition of diplacusis. 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 individuals are affected in different ways by diplacuses. Normally, though, people will experience one of the following two forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is mostly the same from ear to ear, but because of your hearing loss, the timing is out of whack. This could cause echoes (or, instead, artifacts that sound like echoes). This can also cause challenges with regard to understanding speech.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s an indicator of this form of diplacusis. So the sound will be distorted when someone talks to you. One side might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can cause those sounds to be difficult to understand.
The symptoms of diplacusis could include:
- Off timing hearing
- Phantom echoes
- Hearing that sounds off (in pitch).
That said, it’s useful 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. Consequently, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably make an appointment with us.
What causes diplacusis?
In a very basic sense (and probably not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis align rather well with the causes of hearing loss. But you may develop diplacusis for numerous particular reasons:
- Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced enough loud sounds to damage your ears, it’s feasible that the same damage has led to hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to swell. This inflammation is a normal immune response, but it can impact how sound waves travel into your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
- Earwax: Your ability to hear can be affected by an earwax blockage. That earwax obstruction can lead to diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some really rare cases, tumors in your ear canal can result in diplacusis. Don’t panic! In most cases they’re benign. Nevertheless, it’s something you should speak with your hearing specialist about!
Obviously, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same common causes. Meaning that you most likely have some amount of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. Which means you have a good reason to see a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
Depending on the underlying cause, there are several possible treatments. If your condition is related to an obstruction, such as earwax, then treatment will concentrate on the removal of that obstruction. However, diplacusis is often due to permanent sensorineural hearing loss. In these situations, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: The right pair of hearing aids can neutralize how your ears hear again. Your diplacusis symptoms will gradually fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. You’ll want to consult us about getting the right settings for your hearing aids.
- Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant may be the only way of managing 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: a hearing assessment will be able to establish what kind of hearing loss is at the root of your diplacusis (and, to be fair, you might not even recognize it as diplacusis, you may just think things sound weird these days). We have very sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any discrepancies with how your ears are hearing the world will be found.
Hearing clearly is more fun than not
Getting the proper 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 talk to people. It will be easier to stay in tune with your family.
So there will be no diplacusis symptoms getting in the way of your ability to hear your grandkids telling you all about the Diplodocus.
Call today for an appointment to get your diplacusis symptoms assessed.