A black background with a woman who is hearing things in stereo and suffering from diplacusis.

Millions of years ago, the world was a lot different. The long-necked Diplacusis roamed this volcano-laden landscape. Diplacusis was so big, 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. Diplacusis is a hearing condition that causes you to hear two sounds instead of one.

Diplacusis is a condition which can be frustrating and confusing causing difficulty communicating.

Perhaps your hearing has been a little strange lately

Usually, we regard 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 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 term that means, pretty simply, “double hearing”. Usually, your brain will mix the sound from your right and left ear into one sound. That’s what you hear. The same thing occurs with your eyes. You will see slightly different images if you put your hand over each eye one at a time. Your ears are the same, it’s just that typically, you never notice it.

When your brain can’t successfully integrate the two sounds from your ears because they are too different, you have this condition of diplacusis. You can develop diplacusis because of the hearing loss in one ear (called monaural diplacusis) or both ears (binaural diplacusis).

Two forms of diplacusis

Different individuals are affected differently by diplacuses. Usually, though, individuals will experience one of the following two types of diplacusis:

  • 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 somebody speaks with you. One side may sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. Those sounds can be hard to understand consequently.
  • Diplacusis echoica: With this, what you hear will seem off because your brain receives the sound from each ear out of sync with the other instead of hearing two separate pitches. Artifacts similar to echoes can be the outcome. And understanding speech can become challenging because of this.

Symptoms of diplacusis

The symptoms of diplacusis can include:

  • Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
  • Off timing hearing
  • Off pitch hearing

That said, it’s helpful to think of diplacusis as akin to double vision: Yes, it can produce some symptoms on its own, but it’s normally itself a symptom of something else. (It’s the effect, essentially, 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 a hearing specialist.

What causes diplacusis?

In a very basic sense (and probably not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up rather nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But there are some specific reasons why you could develop diplacusis:

  • Noise-induced damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced enough loud noises to damage your hearing, it’s possible that the same damage has brought about hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
  • Earwax: Your hearing can be affected by an earwax blockage. Whether that earwax forms a partial or full blockage, it can cause diplacusis.
  • An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to swell. This swelling is a typical immune reaction, but it can influence how sound waves travel into your inner ear (and subsequently your brain).
  • A tumor: In some extremely rare situations, tumors inside your ear canal can result in diplacusis. Don’t panic! In most cases they’re benign. But you should still consult with us about it.

It’s obvious that there are a number of the same causes of diplacusis and hearing loss. This means that if you have diplacusis, it’s likely that something is interfering with your ability to hear. Which means it’s a good idea to visit a hearing specialist.

How is diplacusis treated?

Depending on the underlying cause, there are a few possible treatments. If your condition is caused by an obstruction, like earwax, then treatment will concentrate on the removal of that blockage. However, diplacusis is frequently caused by permanent sensorineural hearing loss. Here are a few treatment options if that’s the situation:

  • Hearing aids: The right set of hearing aids can equalize how your ears hear again. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. It’s important to get the right settings on your hearing aids and you’ll want to have us help you with that.
  • Cochlear implant: In circumstances 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.

All of this starts with a hearing test. Here’s how you can think about it: a hearing test will be able to determine what type of hearing loss is at the source of your diplacusis (maybe you simply think things sound weird at this point and you don’t even identify it as diplacusis). Modern hearing assessments are really sensitive, and good at finding inconsistencies between how your ears hear the world.

Hearing clearly is more fun than not

Getting the right treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s a hearing aid or something else, means you’ll be more capable of participating in your daily life. Conversations will be easier. It will be easier to communicate 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 impede you.

Call today for an appointment to have your diplacusis symptoms checked.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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