Millions of years ago, the world was a lot different. The long-necked Diplacusis roamed this volcano-laden landscape. 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. Diplacusis is a hearing affliction that causes you to hear two sounds at the same time.
Diplacusis is an affliction which can be frustrating and confusing resulting in difficulty communicating.
Perhaps your hearing has been a little strange lately
We’re used to regarding hearing loss as a sort of gradual decreasing of the volume knob. According to this idea, over time, we simply hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well known, forms of hearing loss. One of the most fascinating (or, possibly, frustrating) such manifestations is a condition called diplacusis.
What is diplacusis?
Exactly what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical term that means, basically, “double hearing”. Usually, your brain will combine the sound from your right and left ear into one sound. That’s what you hear. The same thing occurs with your eyes. 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 occurs when the hearing abilities of your ears differ so significantly 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.
Diplacusis comes in two types
Diplacusis doesn’t affect everybody in the same way. However, there are usually two basic types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This type of diplacusis happens when the pitch of the right ear and the pitch of the left ear are hearing sound as two different pitches. So the sound will be distorted when somebody speaks with you. Perhaps your right ear thinks the sound is low-pitched and your left ear hears the sound as high-pitched. Those sounds can be difficult to understand consequently.
- 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. Artifacts similar to echoes can be the outcome. And understanding speech can become challenging as a result.
The symptoms of diplacusis could include:
- Phantom echoes
- Off pitch hearing
- Off timing hearing
That said, it’s helpful to think of diplacusis as akin to double vision: It’s normally a symptom of something else, but it can produce some of its own symptoms. (Essentially, it’s the effect, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these cases, 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 basic sense (and maybe not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up rather nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But there are a few particular reasons why you may develop diplacusis:
- Earwax: In some circumstances, an earwax blockage can hinder your hearing. Whether that earwax forms a partial or complete blockage, it can lead to diplacusis.
- Your ears have damage caused by 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 as a result, diplacusis.
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even normal allergies can cause your ear canal to swell. This swelling is a normal immune reaction, but it can impact how sound waves move through your inner ear (and therefore your brain).
- A tumor: In some extremely rare situations, tumors inside your ear canal can result in diplacusis. 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. Meaning that you probably 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
The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the underlying cause. If your condition is the result of an obstruction, like earwax, then treatment will focus on the removal of that blockage. However, diplacusis is frequently brought on by permanent sensorineural hearing loss. In these cases, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: The correct set of hearing aids can equalize how your ears hear again. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you benefit from hearing aids. You’ll want to speak with us about getting the correct 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. Think about it like this: a hearing test will be able to determine what kind of hearing loss is at the source of your diplacusis (and, to be fair, you may not even recognize it as diplacusis, you may just think stuff sounds weird these days). Modern hearing assessments are quite sensitive, and good at finding discrepancies between how your ears hear the world.
Hearing well is more fun than not
Getting the right treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s a hearing aid or something else, means you’ll be more able to participate in your daily life. It will be easier to talk to people. Keeping up with your family will be easier.
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 get in the way.
Call today for an appointment to have your diplacusis symptoms checked.