Millions of years ago, the world was much different. The long-necked Diplacusis roamed this volcano-laden landscape. Diplacusis was so large, thanks to its long tail and neck, that no other predators were a threat.
Actually, the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period is called Diplodocus. When you’re hearing two sounds at the same time, that’s a hearing condition known as diplacusis.
Diplacusis is a condition which can be frustrating and confusing causing difficulty with communication.
Maybe you’ve been hearing some odd things
Typically, we think of hearing loss as our hearing getting muted or quiet over time. Over time, the idea is, we simply hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well recognized, forms of hearing loss. Diplacusis is one of the weirder, and also more frustrating, of these hearing conditions.
What is diplacusis?
So, what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical name that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Normally, your brain takes signals from your right ear and signals from the left ear and marries them harmoniously into one sound. That’s what you hear. The same thing occurs with your eyes. If you put 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 typically, you never notice it.
Diplacusis happens 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 due to hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Two kinds of diplacusis
Different people are impacted differently by diplacuses. Usually, though, individuals will experience one of the following two types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is mostly the same from ear to ear, but due to your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. This could cause echoes (or, rather, artifacts that sound similar to echoes). This can also cause challenges in terms of understanding speech.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear don’t match it’s a sign of this form of diplacusis. So the sound will be distorted when someone speaks with you. Maybe your right ear thinks the sound is low-pitched and your left ear hears the sound as high-pitched. This can make those sounds hard to understand.
Symptoms of diplacusis
Here are a few symptoms of diplacusis:
- Off pitch hearing
- Phantom echoes
- Hearing that sounds off (in timing).
The condition of double vision may be a helpful comparison: It’s usually a symptom of something else, but it can produce some of its own symptoms. (In other words, it’s the effect, not the cause.) In these cases, diplacusis is nearly always a symptom of hearing loss (either in one ear or in both ears). So your best strategy would be to make an appointment with us for a hearing test.
What are the causes diplacusis?
In a very basic sense (and perhaps not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis align rather nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But you may experience diplacusis for a number of particular reasons:
- An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to become inflamed. This swelling is a normal immune response, but it can influence the way sound waves travel into your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
- Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced enough loud noises to damage your ears, it’s feasible that the same damage has resulted in hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
- Earwax: Your hearing can be affected by an earwax obstruction. Whether that earwax forms a partial or full obstruction, it can lead to diplacusis.
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare situations, be caused by a tumor in your ear canal. Don’t panic! In most cases they’re benign. But you should still consult with us about it.
Obviously, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same typical causes. Meaning that you probably have some amount of hearing loss if you’re experiencing diplacusis. So you should definitely come in and talk to us.
Treatments for diplacusis
Depending on the main cause, there are several possible treatments. If your condition is caused by a blockage, like earwax, then treatment will focus on the removal of that blockage. However, diplacusis is frequently brought on by irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. In these cases, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: The correct pair of hearing aids can neutralize how your ears hear again. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will likely fade. It’s important to get the proper settings on your hearing aids and you’ll want to have us assist you with that.
- Cochlear implant: A cochlear implant may be the only way of managing diplacusis if the root cause is profound hearing loss.
All of this begins with a hearing test. Think about it like this: a hearing assessment will be able to determine what type of hearing loss is at the root 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 tests are very sensitive, and good at finding discrepancies between how your ears hear the world.
Life is more fun when you can hear well
Getting the appropriate treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s a hearing aid or some other treatment option, means you’ll be more capable of participating in your daily life. Conversations 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 believe you have diplacusis and want to get it checked, call today for an appointment.