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

The world was very different millions of years ago. The long-necked Diplacusis wandered this volcano-laden landscape. Thanks to its really long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so big that it was afraid of no predator.

Actually, Diplodocus is the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period. Diplacusis is a hearing affliction that causes you to hear two sounds at the same time.

Diplacusis is an affliction which can be challenging and confusing leading to difficulty communicating.

Perhaps you’ve been hearing some strange things

Usually, we think of hearing loss as our hearing becoming muted or quiet over time. Over time, the story goes, we just hear less and less. But sometimes, hearing loss can manifest in some unusual ways. One of the most interesting (or, possibly, frustrating) such manifestations is a condition called diplacusis.

What is diplacusis?

So, what is diplacusis? Diplacusis is a medical name that means, basically, “double hearing”. Normally, your brain takes information from the right ear and information from the left ear and joins 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 over your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? It’s the same with your ears, it’s just that usually, you don’t notice it.

Diplacusis occurs when the hearing abilities of your ears vary so wildly that your brain can no longer merge them, at least not well. Monaural diplacusis is a result of hearing loss in only one ear while binaural diplacusis is caused by hearing loss in both.

Two types of diplacusis

Diplacusis does not affect everyone in the same way. Usually, though, individuals will experience one of the following two types of diplacusis:

  • Diplacusis dysharmonica: When the pitch of the right and left ear don’t match it’s an indicator of this type of diplacusis. So the sound will be distorted when someone talks to you. Maybe your right ear thinks the sound is low-pitched and your left ear hears the sound as high-pitched. This can cause those sounds to be hard to make out.
  • Diplacusis echoica: This happens when the pitch is mostly the same from ear to ear, but due to your hearing loss, the timing is all wonky. This might cause echoes (or, rather, artifacts that sound similar to echoes). And understanding speech can become challenging as a result.

Diplicusis symptoms

The symptoms of diplacusis could include:

  • Hearing that seems off (in pitch).
  • Phantom echoes
  • Off timing hearing

That said, it’s helpful to view diplacusis as similar to double vision: Yes, it can produce some symptoms on its own, but it’s usually 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 make an appointment with us.

What causes diplacusis?

In a very basic sense (and perhaps not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up rather well with the causes of hearing loss. But you could develop diplacusis for numerous particular reasons:

  • Earwax: Your hearing can be impacted by an earwax blockage. That earwax blockage can lead to diplacusis.
  • An infection: Swelling of your ear canal can be the consequence of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This inflammation, while a standard response, can impact the way sound moves through your inner ear and to your brain.
  • Your ears have damage caused by noise: If you’ve experienced enough loud sounds to damage your hearing, it’s possible that the same damage has brought about hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
  • A tumor: In some extremely rare cases, tumors inside your ear canal can lead to diplacusis. But stay calm! In most cases they’re benign. Still, it’s something you should talk to your hearing specialist about!

It’s clear that there are many of the same causes of diplacusis and hearing loss. Meaning that you likely have some degree of hearing loss if you’re experiencing diplacusis. So you should definitely come in and see us.

Treatments for diplacusis

The treatments for diplacusis differ based on the underlying cause. If your condition is related to a blockage, such as earwax, then treatment will focus on the removal of that obstruction. However, diplacusis is often brought on 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. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. It’s essential to get the right settings on your hearing aids and you’ll need 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 establish what type of hearing loss is at the source of your diplacusis (perhaps you simply think things sound weird at this point and you don’t even recognize it as diplacusis). Modern hearing tests are very sensitive, and good at detecting inconsistencies between how your ears hear the world.

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 grandchildren tell you all about what a Diplodocus is, and you (hopefully) won’t have any diplacusis to get in the way.

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

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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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