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. This steamy, volcano-laden landscape is where the long-necked Diplacusis roamed. Thanks to its really long neck and tail, Diplacusis was so large that it was afraid of no predator.

Actually, the long-necked dinosaur from the Jurassic Period is called Diplodocus. Diplacusis is a hearing condition that causes you to hear two sounds instead of one.

While it’s not a “horrible 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 difficult or impossible).

Perhaps you’ve been hearing some strange things

We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a sort of gradual decreasing of the volume knob. Over time, the idea is, we just hear less and less. But there are some other, not so well known, forms of hearing loss. One of the most interesting (or, possibly, frustrating) such presentations is a condition called diplacusis.

Diplacusis, what is it?

Exactly what is diplacusis? The meaning of the medical name diplacusis is simply “double hearing”. Usually, your brain will mix the sound from your right and left ear into a single sound. This combined sound is what you hear. Your eyes are doing the same thing. If you place a hand over your right eye and then a hand on your left eye, you see slightly different images, right? Normally, with your ears, you don’t even notice it.

Diplacusis happens when the hearing abilities of your ears differ so wildly that your brain can no longer merge 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 forms

Different people are impacted in different ways by diplacuses. Usually, though, people will experience one of the following two forms of diplacusis:

  • 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 somebody speaks with you. One side might sound high-pitched and the other low-pitched. This can cause those sounds to be hard to make out.
  • Diplacusis echoica: With this, what you hear will sound off because your brain gets the sound from each ear out of sync with the other rather than hearing two different pitches. Artifacts like echoes can be the result. And understanding speech can become complicated because of this.

Symptoms of diplacusis

The symptoms of diplacusis could include:

  • Hearing echoes where they don’t actually exist.
  • Off pitch hearing
  • Hearing that seems off (in timing).

Having said that, it’s useful to view diplacusis as akin to double vision: It’s normally a symptom of something else, but it can produce some of its own symptoms. (It’s the effect, essentially, not the cause.) Diplacusis, in these circumstances, is probably a symptom of hearing loss. So your best course of action would be to Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing exam.

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 there are a few particular reasons why you could develop diplacusis:

  • Noise-induced damage to your ears: If you’ve experienced enough loud sounds to damage your ears, it’s feasible that the same damage has resulted in hearing loss, and as a result, diplacusis.
  • An infection: Ear infections, sinus infections, or even just plain old allergies can cause your ear canal to swell. This swelling, while a standard response, can impact the way sound moves through your inner ear and to your brain.
  • Earwax: Your hearing can be impacted by an earwax blockage. That earwax obstruction can cause diplacusis.
  • A tumor: Diplacusis can, in rare cases, be caused by a tumor inside of your ear canal. But remain calm! They’re normally benign. But you should still speak with us about it.

It’s clear that there are a number of the same causes of hearing loss and diplacusis. Meaning that you probably have some level of hearing loss if you’re experiencing diplacusis. Which means you have a good reason to visit a hearing specialist.

Treatments for diplacusis

The treatments for diplacusis vary based on the root cause. If your condition is related to an obstruction, such as earwax, then treatment will concentrate on the removal of that obstruction. But irreversible sensorineural hearing loss is more frequently the cause. In these cases, the best treatment options include:

  • Hearing aids: The correct set of hearing aids can neutralize how your ears hear again. Your diplacusis symptoms will slowly fade when you take advantage of hearing aids. You’ll want to speak with us about finding the right settings for your hearing aids.
  • 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 to the bottom of the problem. Here’s how you can think about it: a hearing exam will be able to establish what kind of hearing loss is at the root of your diplacusis (perhaps you simply think things sound strange at this point and you don’t even recognize it as diplacusis). Modern hearing assessments are quite 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 appropriate treatment for your diplacusis, whether that’s hearing aids or some other treatment. It will be easier to carry on conversations. Keeping up with your family will be easier.

So there will be no diplacusis symptoms getting in the way of your ability to hear your grandchildren telling you all about the Diplodocus.

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.