Millions of years ago, the world was quite a bit different. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis roamed. Diplacusis was so big, thanks 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 known as diplacusis.
While it’s not a “terrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a terror on its own, causing a hearing experience that feels bewildering and out of sorts (frequently making communication challenging or impossible).
Maybe you’ve been hearing some odd things
Typically, we think of hearing loss as our hearing becoming muted or quiet over time. According to this notion, over time, we simply hear less and less. But sometimes, hearing loss can manifest in some peculiar ways. Diplacusis is one of the weirder, and also more frustrating, of these hearing conditions.
Diplacusis, what is it?
Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical name diplacusis is basically “double hearing”. Typically, your brain will mix the sound from your right and left ear into a single sound. That’s what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. If you place a hand on your right eye and then a hand over your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? Usually, with your ears, you don’t even notice it.
When your brain can’t effectively combine the two sounds from your ears because they are too different, you have this condition of diplacusis. You can develop diplacusis as a result of hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).
Two kinds of diplacusis
Diplacusis does not impact everyone in the same way. However, there are usually two basic types 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 rather than hearing two separate pitches. This may cause echoes (or, rather, artifacts that sound like echoes). And understanding speech can become challenging because of this.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: This type of diplacusis happens when the pitch of the right ear and the pitch of the left ear seem off. So the sound will be distorted when someone speaks with you. Perhaps your right ear thinks the sound is low-pitched and your left ear thinks the sound is high-pitched. Those sounds can be difficult to understand consequently.
Here are a few symptoms of diplacusis:
- Off pitch hearing
- Phantom echoes
- Off timing hearing
The condition of double vision might be a helpful comparison: Yes, it can develop some symptoms on its own, but it’s usually itself a symptom of something else. (It’s the effect, essentially, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these circumstances, is most likely a symptom of hearing loss. Consequently, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist.
What are the causes diplacusis?
In a very general sense (and maybe not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up rather nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But there are some specific reasons why you may develop diplacusis:
- Noise-induced damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced hearing loss caused by noise damage, it’s possible that it could trigger diplacusis.
- Earwax: Your ability to hear can be affected by an earwax blockage. That earwax obstruction can trigger diplacusis.
- An infection: Inflammation of your ear canal can be the result of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This swelling, while a natural response, can effect the way sound travels through your inner ear and to your brain.
- A tumor: In some really rare situations, tumors inside your ear canal can lead to diplacusis. But stay calm! They’re normally benign. Still, it’s something you should talk to your hearing specialist about!
As you can see, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same typical causes. Which means that if you have diplacusis, it’s likely that something is interfering with your ability to hear. So you should absolutely come in and see us.
Treatments for diplacusis
The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the underlying cause. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will center around clearing it out. But permanent sensorineural hearing loss is more often the cause. Here are some treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be equalized with the right set of hearing aids. Your diplacusis symptoms will gradually fade when you benefit from hearing aids. You’ll want to speak with us about finding the correct settings for your hearing aids.
- Cochlear implant: In cases where the hearing loss at the root of diplacusis is profound, a cochlear implant may be the only way to provide relief from the symptoms.
A hearing test is the first step to getting it all figured out. Think about it like this: whatever type of hearing loss is the source of your diplacusis, a hearing test will be able to determine that (and, to be fair, you may 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.
Life is more fun when you can hear well
Getting the proper 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. It will be easier to carry on conversations. 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 impede you.
If you believe you have diplacusis and want to get it checked, give us a call for an appointment.