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

Millions of years ago, the world was quite a bit different. The long-necked Diplacusis wandered this volcano-laden landscape. Diplacusis was so large, due to its long tail and neck, that no other predators were a threat.

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

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

Maybe you’ve been hearing some odd things

We’re used to regarding hearing loss as a kind of gradual lowering of the volume knob. According to this notion, over time, we simply hear less and less. But sometimes, hearing loss can manifest in some unusual ways. Diplacusis is one of the stranger, and also more frustrating, of these hearing conditions.

Diplacusis, what is it?

Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical term diplacusis is simply “double hearing”. Typically, your brain takes information from the right ear and information from the left ear and joins them harmoniously into one sound. That’s what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. 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 never notice it.

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

Diplacusis comes in two kinds

Different individuals are impacted in different ways by diplacuses. Normally, though, individuals will experience one of the following two types of diplacusis:

  • Diplacusis echoica: This occurs when the pitch is nearly the same from ear to ear, but because of your hearing loss, the timing is out of whack. Artifacts similar to echoes can be the result. This can also cause difficulty with regard to understanding speech.
  • Diplacusis dysharmonica: This form of diplacusis occurs 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 hard to understand as a result.

Symptoms of diplacusis

The symptoms of diplacusis could include:

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

That said, it’s useful to think of diplacusis as similar to double vision: It’s usually a symptom of something else, but it can produce some of its own symptoms. (In other words, it’s the effect, not the cause.) In these circumstances, 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 a hearing specialist.

What causes diplacusis?

In a very basic sense (and maybe not surprisingly), the causes of diplacusis line up rather nicely with the causes of hearing loss. But you may experience diplacusis for several specific reasons:

  • Earwax: Your ability to hear can be affected by an earwax obstruction. Whether that earwax causes a partial or complete blockage, it can cause diplacusis.
  • 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 resulted in hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
  • An infection: Inflammation of your ear canal can be the consequence of an ear infection, sinus infection, or even allergies. This inflammation is a normal immune response, but it can impact the way sound waves travel into your inner ear (and therefore your brain).
  • A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare instances, be the result of a tumor inside of your ear canal. Don’t panic! In most instances they’re benign. Nevertheless, it’s something you should talk to your hearing specialist about!

It’s obvious that there are a number of the same causes of hearing loss and diplacusis. This means that if you have diplacusis, it’s a good bet something is impeding your ability to hear. So you should absolutely come in and see us.

Treatments for diplacusis

Depending on the main cause, there are a few possible treatments. If your condition is related to an obstruction, like earwax, then treatment will concentrate on the removal of that obstruction. But irreversible sensorineural hearing loss is more frequently the cause. In these situations, the best treatment options include:

  • Hearing aids: Your hearing can be equalized with the correct set of hearing aids. This means that the symptoms of diplacusis will likely disappear. You’ll want to talk to us about getting the right settings for your hearing aids.
  • Cochlear implant: In circumstances where the hearing loss at the root of diplacusis is profound, a cochlear implant might be the only way to get relief from the symptoms.

All of this begins with a hearing exam. Here’s how you can think about it: a hearing exam will be able to determine what kind 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). We have extremely sensitive hearing tests nowadays and any inconsistencies with how your ears are hearing the world will be detected.

Hearing clearly is more fun than not

Getting the appropriate treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s a hearing aid or something else, means you’ll be more able to participate in your daily life. Conversations will be easier. It will be easier to stay in tune with your family.

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 impede you.

If you believe you have diplacusis and want to get it checked, give us a call for an appointment.

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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.