The world was extremely different millions of years ago. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis wandered. 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 at the same time, 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 (frequently making communication difficult or impossible).
Perhaps your hearing has been a little strange lately
We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a kind of gradual decreasing of the volume knob. According to this notion, over time, we just 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?
Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical term diplacusis is basically “double hearing”. Usually, your brain will combine the sound from your right and left ear into a single sound. That’s what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. You will see slightly different images if you put your hand over each eye one at a time. Normally, with your ears, you won’t even notice it.
Diplacusis occurs when the hearing abilities of your ears vary so significantly that your brain can no longer blend them, at least not very well. You can experience diplacusis as a result of hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Diplacusis comes in two forms
Diplacusis does not impact everyone in the same way. Usually, though, individuals will experience one of the following two forms of diplacusis:
- 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 instead of hearing two different pitches. This could cause echoes (or, instead, artifacts that sound like echoes). And understanding speech can become complicated as a result.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s an indicator of this form of diplacusis. So when your grandkids talk to you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. One side may sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. Those sounds can be difficult to understand consequently.
The symptoms of diplacusis can include:
- Hearing that sounds off (in pitch).
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
The condition of double vision could be a useful comparison: 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.) In these cases, diplacusis is almost always a symptom of hearing loss (either in one ear or in both ears). As a result, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably schedule an appointment with us.
What causes diplacusis?
In a very basic sense (and probably not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up quite nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But you may experience diplacusis for numerous particular reasons:
- Your ears have damage related to noise: If you’ve experienced enough loud sounds to damage your hearing, it’s feasible that the same damage has resulted in hearing loss, and consequently, diplacusis.
- Earwax: In some cases, an earwax obstruction can impede your hearing. That earwax obstruction can cause diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even normal allergies can cause your ear canal to become inflamed. This swelling, while a natural response, can impact the way sound moves through your inner ear and to your brain.
- A tumor: In some very rare instances, tumors in your ear canal can lead to diplacusis. Don’t panic! In most instances they’re benign. But you still should consult with us about it.
It’s obvious that there are many of the same causes of diplacusis and hearing loss. Meaning that you most likely have some degree of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. So you should absolutely come in and talk to us.
Treatments for diplacusis
The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the root cause. If your condition is the result of an obstruction, such as earwax, then treatment will concentrate on the removal of that obstruction. However, diplacusis is frequently brought on by irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. In these cases, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be neutralized with the right set of hearing aids. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will most likely fade. It’s essential to get the proper settings on your hearing aids and you’ll want to have us help you with that.
- 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 test. Think about it this way: whatever type of hearing loss is the cause of your diplacusis, a hearing test will be able to establish that (maybe you just think things sound strange at this point and you don’t even recognize it as diplacusis). Modern hearing tests are quite sensitive, and good at finding discrepancies between how your ears hear the world.
Life is more fun when you can hear well
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. Talking with others will be easier. 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 impede you.
If you think you have diplacusis and want to get it checked, give us a call for an appointment.