The world was extremely different millions of years ago. 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. When you’re hearing two sounds simultaneously, that’s a hearing condition known as diplacusis.
While it’s not a “terrible lizard,” in many ways diplacusis can be a menace on its own, leading to a hearing experience that feels bewildering and out of sorts (frequently making communication challenging or impossible).
Perhaps you’ve been hearing some strange things
We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a kind of gradual decreasing of the volume knob. Over time, the story goes, we simply hear less and less. But in some cases, hearing loss can manifest in some unusual ways. One of the most interesting (or, perhaps, frustrating) such manifestations is a condition called diplacusis.
What is diplacusis?
So, what’s diplacusis? The meaning of the medical term 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. The same thing happens with your eyes. You will see slightly different images if you cover each eye one at a time. Your ears are the same, it’s just that usually, you never notice it.
When your brain can’t effectively merge the two sounds from your ears because they are too different, you have this condition of diplacusis. Monaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is due to hearing loss in both.
Diplacusis comes in two types
Different people are affected in different ways by diplacuses. However, there are typically two basic types of diplacusis:
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s an indication of this type of diplacusis. So when your grandkids speak with you, the pitch of their voice will sound distorted. Perhaps your right ear thinks the sound is low-pitched and your left ear thinks the sound is high-pitched. This can make those sounds difficult to make out.
- Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is mostly the same from ear to ear, but because of your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. This may cause echoes (or, instead, artifacts that sound similar to echoes). And understanding speech can become complicated as a result.
Here are a few symptoms of diplacusis:
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
- Hearing that seems off (in pitch).
- Hearing that seems off (in timing).
The condition of double vision could be a helpful comparison: Yes, it can produce 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 cases, is probably a symptom of hearing loss. Consequently, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably make an appointment with a hearing specialist.
What causes diplacusis?
In a very general sense (and probably not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis align quite well with the causes of hearing loss. But you could develop 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 swell. This inflammation is a common immune reaction, but it can impact the way sound waves move through your inner ear (and therefore your brain).
- Earwax: Your hearing can be impacted by an earwax blockage. Whether that earwax forms a partial or complete obstruction, it can cause diplacusis.
- Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced hearing loss due to noise damage, it’s feasible that it could cause diplacusis.
- A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare cases, be the result of a tumor in your ear canal. But remain calm! They’re normally benign. But you should still speak with us about it.
Obviously, diplacusis and hearing loss have many of the same common causes. Meaning that you probably have some degree of hearing loss if you’re experiencing diplacusis. Which means you have a good reason to see a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the root cause. If you have a blockage, treating your diplacusis will center around clearing it out. But irreversible sensorineural hearing loss is more often the cause. In these situations, the best treatment options include:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be equalized with the correct pair of hearing aids. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. You’ll want to consult us about finding the right 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 begins with a hearing assessment. 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 stuff sounds weird these days). 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 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. Talking with others will be easier. It will be easier to communicate with your family.
So there will be no diplacusis symptoms getting in the way of your ability to hear your grandchildren telling you all about the Diplodocus.
If you think you have diplacusis and want to have it checked, give us a call for an appointment.