Millions of years ago, the world was much 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. Diplacusis is a hearing affliction that causes you to hear two sounds instead of one.
Diplacusis is an affliction which can be challenging and confusing leading to difficulty communicating.
Perhaps you’ve been hearing some unusual things
We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a kind of gradual decreasing of the volume knob. According to this notion, over time, we just hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well known, forms of hearing loss. Diplacusis is one of the weirder, and also more frustrating, of these hearing problems.
What is diplacusis?
Exactly what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical name that means, basically, “double hearing”. Typically, your brain will blend the sound from your right and left ear into a single sound. This blended sound is 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. Normally, with your ears, you don’t even 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. Monaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in both.
Diplacusis comes in two kinds
Different individuals are affected in different ways by diplacuses. Normally, though, people 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 rather than hearing two separate pitches. Artifacts like echoes can be the result. And understanding speech can become difficult because of this.
- Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear are off it’s a sign of this type of diplacusis. So the sound will be distorted when someone speaks with you. One side might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can cause those sounds to be difficult to understand.
Here are a few symptoms of diplacusis:
- Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
- Off pitch hearing
- Off timing hearing
Having said that, it’s helpful to view diplacusis as similar to double vision: Yes, it can produce some symptoms on its own, but it’s normally itself a symptom of something else. (Essentially, 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). Consequently, if you experience diplacusis, you should probably schedule an appointment with us.
What causes diplacusis?
The causes of diplacusis line up rather well, in a general sense, with the causes of hearing loss. But you could experience diplacusis for a number of specific reasons:
- Earwax: In some circumstances, an earwax obstruction can hinder your ability to hear. Whether that earwax forms a partial or complete blockage, it can cause diplacusis.
- An infection: Inflammation of your ear canal can be the outcome of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This swelling, while a natural response, can effect the way sound moves through your inner ear and to your brain.
- Noise-related damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced hearing loss due to noise damage, it’s feasible that it could trigger diplacusis.
- A tumor: In some extremely rare cases, tumors in your ear canal can result in diplacusis. But remain calm! They’re normally benign. But you still should consult with us about it.
It’s clear that there are a number of the same causes of hearing loss and diplacusis. Which means that if you’re experiencing diplacusis, it’s a good bet something is impeding your ability to hear. Which means you have a good reason to see a hearing specialist.
Treatments for diplacusis
The treatments for diplacusis differ based on the root cause. If you have an obstruction, treating your diplacusis will center around clearing it out. However, diplacusis is frequently caused by irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. Here are some treatment options if that’s the situation:
- Hearing aids: Your hearing can be neutralized with the right pair of hearing aids. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will likely disappear. It’s important to get the proper settings on your hearing aids and you’ll want 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.
A hearing exam is the first step to getting it all figured out. Here’s how you can think about it: a hearing exam will be able to establish what kind of hearing loss is at the source of your diplacusis (maybe you just think things sound weird at this point and you don’t even identify it as diplacusis). We have very sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any discrepancies with how your ears are hearing the world will be found.
Hearing clearly is more fun than not
You’ll be better able to enjoy your life when you get the proper treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or something else. Conversations will be easier. 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.
If you believe you have diplacusis and want to have it checked, give us a call for an appointment.