Millions of years ago, the world was a lot different. The long-necked Diplacusis wandered this volcano-laden landscape. Diplacusis was so large, due 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. Diplacusis is a hearing affliction that causes you to hear two sounds instead of one.
Diplacusis is an affliction which can be frustrating and confusing leading to difficulty with communication.
Perhaps your hearing has been a little strange lately
Typically, we think of hearing loss as our hearing getting muted or quiet over time. Over time, the story goes, we simply hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well recognized, types of hearing loss. Diplacusis is one of the stranger, and also more frustrating, of these hearing problems.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical term that means, basically, “double hearing”. Typically, your brain takes signals from your right ear and signals from the left ear and marries them harmoniously into a single sound. This blended sound is what you hear. The same thing occurs with your eyes. If you put a hand on your right eye and then a hand on your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? Normally, with your ears, you won’t even notice it.
Diplacusis occurs when the hearing abilities of your ears differ so wildly that your brain can no longer blend them, at least not very well. You can develop diplacusis due to hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Two forms of diplacusis
Diplacusis doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. Normally, though, individuals will experience one of the following two forms of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis echoica: With this, what you hear will seem off because your brain gets the sound from each ear out of sync with the other instead of hearing two separate pitches. This might cause echoes (or, instead, artifacts that sound like echoes). This can also cause difficulty in terms of understanding speech.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear don’t match it’s an indicator of this form of diplacusis. So the sound will be distorted when somebody talks to you. One side might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can make those sounds difficult to understand.
Symptoms of diplacusis
The symptoms of diplacusis could include:
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
- Hearing that sounds off (in pitch).
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
The condition of double vision could be a helpful comparison: It’s usually a symptom of something else, but it can create some of its own symptoms. (It’s the effect, essentially, not the cause.) In these circumstances, diplacusis is almost always a symptom of hearing loss (either in one ear or in both ears). Consequently, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist.
What are the causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up rather well, in a general way, with the causes of hearing loss. But there are some particular reasons why you may develop diplacusis:
- An infection: Inflammation of your ear canal can be the outcome of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This inflammation is a typical immune response, but it can influence how sound waves move through your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
- Your ears have damage caused by noise: If you’ve experienced hearing loss caused by noise damage, it’s possible that it could trigger diplacusis.
- Earwax: Your hearing can be impacted by an earwax obstruction. That earwax obstruction can cause diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some really rare cases, tumors in your ear canal can cause diplacusis. But remain calm! In most instances they’re benign. But you should still talk to us about it.
It’s clear that there are a number of the same causes of hearing loss and diplacusis. Meaning that you probably have some level of hearing loss if you have diplacusis. So you should absolutely come in and see us.
How is diplacusis treated?
The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the root cause. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will focus on clearing it out. But permanent sensorineural hearing loss is more frequently the cause. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be equalized with the correct pair of hearing aids. Your diplacusis symptoms will gradually fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. It’s essential to get the correct 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 exam. Here’s how you can think about it: a hearing exam will be able to identify what type of hearing loss is at the source of your diplacusis (and, to be fair, you may not even recognize it as diplacusis, you might just think things sound weird these days). Modern hearing tests are really sensitive, and good at finding inconsistencies between how your ears hear the world.
Life is more fun when you can hear clearly
You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the appropriate treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or some other treatment. It will be easier to carry on conversations. It will be easier to stay in tune with your family.
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.
If you think you have diplacusis and want to have it checked, call today for an appointment.